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,…

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…

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…

Attorneys in the Clutch

Earlier this year I ran a blog post on the most powerful justices across time, which focused on their decisions in cases with single vote margin majorities.  That post accounted for the decision makers, but it did not consider the attorneys whose arguments factor into the justices’ decision calculi.  This post takes a look at…

Developing the Court’s Precedent 2016

Through the course of a single term, the Supreme Court went from a “boring” eight member body to one apparently itching to take on polarizing political issues.  This transformation took place in the Court’s first full term without Justice Scalia since 1986.  Some (including Justice Breyer) speculated that Scalia’s absence would have a large impact…

Why Justice Kennedy May Not Leave The Court Right Now

The Supreme Court is not an institution with regular turnover.  Since the Justices have life tenure, many stay on well into old age and often for decades.  The Justices are insulated in their positions for life and there is little incentive to move to other jobs.  In fact, the last Justice to leave the Court…

Interruptions and References

  Supreme Court oral arguments are traditionally thought of as a time for the Justices to interact with and ask question of attorneys in a case.  One of the lesser thought of aspects of oral arguments has to do with the interaction among the Justices.  Over the years several studies and articles have looked at this…