Sunday, July 01, 2012

End of Term

The Supreme Court is now on summer break till October. There are a bunch of good articles about the end of the Term, but the place to go is SCOTUSBlog, which has pages and pages of stats-- really anything you could ask about the Term is broken down statistically. Here are some of the take-away stats highlighted by the blog:

The Sixth Circuit continued its abysmal streak in the Supreme Court. Between OT08 and OT10, cases originating in the Sixth Circuit were affirmed only once in 18 attempts. All 5 cases from the Sixth Circuit were reversed during OT11. [Page 3].

The Court released a rare 5-4 summary reversal this Term in American Tradition Partnership v. Bullock — a rarity because four Justices can usually grant certiorari in a case and force oral arguments, thereby eliminating the need for a dissenting opinion. [Page 5].

The Court has decided fewer merits cases after oral argument, 65, than it has during any time in the last twenty years. The Court was already cruising to a relatively low number of merits cases when it finished granting cases for oral argument during OT11 in January, but the dismissals of Vasquez v. United States and First American Financial v. Edwards, the rebriefing of Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum, and the eventual consolidation of Jackson v. Hobbs with Miller v. Alabama for purposes of the opinion have resulted in the Court issuing a record low number of opinions in fully briefed merits cases. [Page 9].

Although it issued a low number of signed merits cases, the Court did released a high number of summary reversals, 10. From OT00-OT10, the Court averaged 6 summary reversals per Term. [Page 10].

Justices Scalia and Thomas have finished the Term with the highest rate of agreement on the judgment across all cases. They agreed 93.3% of the time. Justices Scalia and Ginsburg finished with the lowest rate, agreeing 56.0% of the time. [Page 23].

The two fastest signed majority opinions of OT11 were authored by Justice Scalia. He produced Greene v. Fisher in 28 days and RadLax v. Amalgamated Bank in 36 days. Justices Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan each authored 2 of the top 10 fastest opinions. [Page 27].

Fascinating stuff. I thought this stat was particularly interesting:

Justice Kennedy is, for the fourth consecutive Term, the Justice most likely to appear in the majority. This Term he voted with the majority in 69 out of the 74 cases he voted in, marking the second-highest percentage of the past five Terms (93.2%) and falling only to his frequency in the majority from last Term (93.8%). Chief Justice Roberts, who himself has become a mainstay of recent majority opinions, had the second-highest frequency in the majority (91.9%). In 3 of the last 4 Terms, the Chief Justice has been either the most likely or second-most likely Justice to appear in the majority of a decision. Just as she was last Term, Justice Ginsburg is the Justice least likely to vote with the majority; she votes with the majority in 69.3% of all cases.

69 out of 74 for Kennedy is amazing. It really is his Court. One big asterisk though in that he lost the biggest case of the Term. It must kill Kennedy that he had to dissent in the Health Care cases and that he couldn't convince Roberts to come back to the conservative Justices.

Enjoy the summer SCOTUS.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I find it completely inconceivable (yes, I do know what that word means) that Justice Thomas and Justice Scalia disagreed in 6.7% of the cases. I thought Justice Thomas followed three absolute rules: 1) never say anything during oral argument (you may just learn something you did not want to know); 2) always side with Scalia (even when that third wheel Alito butts in); and 3) no sodas allowed in chambers - ever.