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.

Dissents from Denial of Cert (2010-2015)

The Supreme Court Justices released the first non-per curiam or related opinion of the 2016 Term today (contained in the Court’s opinions related to orders), although not in the traditional sense.  This opinion came in the form of Justice Sotomayor’s detailed dissent from denial of certiorari in the capital case, Elmore v. Holbrook.  Such dissents are becoming…