RBG’s Departure Might Look A Lot Like Thurgood Marshall’s

Justice Ginsburg has had quite a few health scares over the past little over a decade. She was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2009 and subsequently resisted pressure to retire from the Court under Obama’s administration.  With multiple hospital stays this year and a recurrence of her pancreatic cancer, many question how long she will…

Clear Polarization in Second Level Supreme Court Decision Making

Over the past five Supreme Court Terms the justices have issued 157 separate opinions from Court orders. These are cases that are not orally argued and do not receive full merits consideration. We do not necessarily know all the justices votes in these cases – only the ones the justices made public through signing onto separate opinions. Of these 157 opinions, only two include at least one conservative and one liberal justice signed onto the same opinion. Both are dissents from Justices Gorsuch and Sotomayor in criminal cases. The other 155 separate opinions split the justices ideologically or are solo authored. The spotlight on the Court’s polarization could not be clearer.

Precedent: Which Justices Practice What They Preach

While Supreme Court Justices are by no means bound by their past decisions, the Court often respects its past decisions for a variety of reasons. The reasons given for adhering the Court’s past precedents are often across between cases. Justice Kagan offered her interpretation for remaining faithful to precedent in dissent in last term’s Knick…

Interesting Meetings of the Minds of Supreme Court Justices

Unanimity in the Supreme Court used to be the norm. In the early Supreme Court there were few dissents and so there was little opportunity to see differences between the justices’ views outside of how they authored their majority opinions. This practice has changed over the years as now decisions are more frequently divided rather…

The Singular Relationship Between the D.C. Circuit and the Supreme Court

With the Supreme Court term about to begin many eyes will be on a small handful of cases. The interest in these cases generally surrounds certain salient case issues. In this respect this term has a lot to offer. The Court will review the federal government’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy. It will look at the constitutionality…

A Class of Their Own: The Supreme Court’s Recent Take on Class Actions

Supreme Court decisions tend to impact more than just the individuals named in a lawsuit.  Supreme Court Rule 10, the one official written description of factors that may lead to a higher likelihood of a cert grant focuses primarily on areas with inconsistent court decisions across the country. One of the rationales behind this disparate…

A Wild Ride of a Term with Twenty Decisions Still to Go

The 2018 Supreme Court Term has taken many twists and turns, and there are still 20 decisions the Court has to release in its last week and a half of work before summer recess. Much may change between now and then, but with 55 cases already decided, we have unique and surprising patterns of decision-making among the justices.  This is most apparent in the Court’s 5-4 (or 5-3) decisions, where one vote could shift a decision in a different direction.  

So Happy Together

With many anticipated decisions still to come in the next month or so, the Supreme Court has already started to define itself in the post-Kennedy era.  Certain patterns have emerged in the justices’ voting that distinguish this Court from past Courts. We are also beginning to see how the newest justices and Trump appointees —…

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 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…