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.

Forced Judicial Restraint

When, soon after his nomination to the Supreme Court, Judge Garland was praised for his judicial restraint, this praise was not envisioned for the type of impact Judge Garland’s nomination has made on the Court so far.  Similarly, no one calling for judicial restraint or decrying the Court’s judicial activism prior to 2016 expected change to come in…