Advocates that Drive the Justices’ Votes

Supreme Court scholars often debate the role of lawyers in Supreme Court decision making.  For an attitudinalist, the justices’ preferences make all (or at least most of) the difference.  According to this theory justices will often vote based on their preferred policy direction, which minimizes the role of advocacy.  More recent studies show that such…

Is Kavanaugh as Conservative as Expected?

On Monday April 1, 2019 the Supreme Court decided the case Bucklew v. Precythe with the five conservative justices in the majority and the four liberals in dissent. To some including legal scholar and CNN analyst Steve Vladeck, this ruling ushered in a new conservative Court without the moderating anchor of Justice Kennedy.  Going even…

Is the Court Tracking Right or Roberts Left?

While Supreme Court Justices’ votes are not purely the product of ideological preferences, some of the most important cases the justices decide come down to 5-4 splits along ideological lines. This was especially apparent during the 2017 Supreme Court term.  Even though Chief Justice Roberts was in the conservative camp for many of these split…

Who’s in the Majority?

While few people ever have the opportunity of sitting on the Supreme Court, some similarities exist between this upper echelon of judging and other jobs. One parallel has to do with job satisfaction.  While judges that make it all the way to the Supreme Court should feel accomplished and contented by their achievements, there also…

Amid Record-Breaking Consensus the Justices’ Divisions Still Run Deep

How divided is the current Supreme Court? On the surface the answer appears mixed.  Much conversation over from the past several years surrounding the Court’s decisions has had to do with partisan and ideological divisions among the justices.  These divisions and the Court’s rightward shift appear a reality as evidenced by the systematic victories of…

Looking Back to Assess the Potential Future of Oral Arguments

Over the past several years the Supreme Court has undergone substantial change. Not only has the face of the Court shifted, but so has its center with the departure of Justice Kennedy. Oral arguments offer the only vantage into the interactions and dynamics between the justices and provide some context for how they might vote…

If Ginsburg Leaves it Could be the Left’s Biggest Loss Yet

The saga over Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s health seems to ebb and flow from the headlines almost daily.  Part of the mystery relates to the amount of information shared with the public. We know Ginsburg broke ribs and while providing care for her ribs doctors found malignant lesions in her lungs that were promptly removed. She…

The Strength of Precedent is in the Justices’ Actions, Not Words

During his Supreme Court confirmation hearings in 2005, now Chief Justice Roberts exposited, “Judges have to have the humility to recognize that they operate within a system of precedent shaped by other judges equally striving to live up to the judicial oath, and judges have to have modesty to be open in the decisional process…

Breadcrumbs in a New Term

On November 6th, the Court released its first signed majority opinion of the term authored by Justice Ginsburg.  This is Ginsburg’s third consecutive term as author of the Court’s first signed majority opinion.  In a concise unanimous decision (8-0 since Kavanaugh did not participate), the Court in Mount Lemmon Fire District v. Guido held that…

What to Expect From Kavanaugh’s 1st Term

The tense waiting is now over as Justice Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court on October 6th 2018.  One of the big stories following Kavanaugh though is his low rate of public approval.  This low rate of approval was apparent soon after Kavanaugh was nominated.  Not only this, but as the figure below shows, Kavanaugh was…

The Big Business Court

The current Supreme Court is unabashedly friendly towards big business. How friendly? If the Court’s trajectory continues, perhaps as friendly as any Court dating back to the Lochner-era where laissez-faire policies exuded from the Court’s rulings. Prominent scholars, most notably Epstein, Landes, and Posner found empirical support for the proposition that the current Court is more pro-business…

A Little Change Will Do You Good: Oral Argument Interruptions 2017

Although female justices have only served on the Supreme Court since 1981, a relatively short slice of the Court’s history, gender imbalances have existed in oral argument interruptions for many years with female justices bearing the brunt of them. These imbalances were identified in a blog post on Empirical SCOTUS with subsequent commentary from Stephanie…