Building a Merits Docket in 2018

The Supreme Court hears its first oral argument of the 2018 term on the first Monday in October (Monday October 1st).  Before then, on September 24th, the justices will sit down to what is known as the “long conference” where the justices will review petitions for the first time since June.  The number of petitions…

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…

Get Ready for A Confirmation Battle More Intense Than Most

Even though the Supreme Court is not in session it is far from out of the news. With the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh, much of the conversation now surrounds expectations for the a fierce confirmation battle – possibly one of the most fierce we have ever seen.  Some speculate that notwithstanding the drama surrounding the failure…

Getting Rid of those Amicus Blues

Good writing makes a world of difference in appellate practice.  In an era where some scholars question whether oral arguments have very much utility, briefs, and especially amicus briefs, are thought to play a unique role in Supreme Court decision making.  The Court receives briefs in large numbers, with amicus briefs leading the way.  Cases with broad national repercussions may garner…

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,…

The Five Frontrunners

With less than one week left until President Trump announces his nominee to fill the second SCOTUS vacancy since he took office, not all names are getting equal attention.  President Trump indicated the other day that he narrowed down his initial list to five finalists.  While all members on this whittled down list are not known, a few judges…

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…

Don’t Cite Me Like That

An interesting debate was reignited by the Chief Justice’s majority opinion in Minnesota Voter’s Alliance v. Mansky. This debate surrounds the effect of oral arguments, if any, on the justices’ decisions.  Here is one of the sections from Roberts’ majority opinion in that case that refers to oral arguments. In this example, as is the case…

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…