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…

Indirectly Inferring Kavanaugh’s Positions in Abortion Cases

A question on much of the public’s mind seems to be how Judge Kavanaugh will vote in abortion cases if confirmed to the Supreme Court, and more specifically if he will vote to overturn Roe v. Wade.  Kavanaugh has only written a decision in one case regarding abortion — Garza v. Hargan. In the decision he did…

Expect Kavanaugh To Shift the Court Right. How Far No One Knows.

The discussion over who will fill the Supreme Court vacancy has dominated much of the political conversation since Justice Kennedy announced his retirement from the Supreme Court on June 27.  Last night, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, an obvious choice and the one I predicted in December 2017, was announced as nominee.  When Kennedy’s retirement rumors previously circulated,…

Judicial Politics, Roberts’ Dilemma, and One Crazy Term

This Supreme Court term was nerve racking for some conservatives (mainly unwarranted), most liberals (with good reason), and probably for some of the justices too, and yet all for different rationales. Below I’ll go through what may have caused this tension and why members of these three groups might have felt it. Before the Court’s…

One Opinion More Complex Than the Next

The Supreme Court finally appears decently situated to complete its decision making for the term.  Some holdups are still in play including the long since argued case of Gill v. Whitford.  Gill was argued 255 days from the next possible opinion release date of June 14, 2018.  Only 10 cases have taken longer to decide…

A Seismic Shift?

It seems out of a script by the writers of the film Groundhog Day.  At the end of the term each year Court watchers await the impending retirement of a justice.  Stories break in the months before June trying to sort through the imperfect information concerning such retirement plans. In recent years, speculation of an…

Retirement Plan Blues

It is that time of year again. As we near the end of the Supreme Court term, we are experiencing another round of prognostications on whether Justice Kennedy will retire leaving another vacancy for the Trump Administration to fill (last year’s take on the possibility of Kennedy’s retirement can be found here).  About this time of…

How Gorsuch’s First Year Compares

In 1986 when Justice Scalia joined the Supreme Court, the bench looked quite different than it does today. In fact, none of the justices on that Court still sit on the Supreme Court as Scalia was the final holdout.  In 1986 the Court was composed of five justices who were predominately ideologically conservative and four…

An Opinion is Worth at Least 1,000 Words

Supreme Court opinions come in all different shapes and sizes.  Some are short and sweet, others are dense, long, and hard to follow.  Some reasons behind relative opinion length are obvious.  Even though the justices tend not to grant cases with facile solutions, certain cases are more complex and involve extensive fact patterns.  Along with…

The Interpretive Dance

In the Supreme Court’s first decision of the term, Hamer v. Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg cited language from the court’s 2010 decision in Magwood v. Patterson stipulating that “[w]e cannot replace the actual text with speculation as to Congress’ intent.” Indeed, as Justice Elena Kagan wrote in the 2015 decision Ross…

When Opposites Attract Ideology Falls to the Wayside

Lots of noise is made about partisan and ideological divides on the Supreme Court.  There tends to be less hubbub surrounding instances when justices that traditionally divide ideologically, vote together. Such surprising coalitions formed in the majority and dissent for the Court’s decision in last week’s Patchak v. Zinke ruling.  Although this decision was met with only…