The Supreme Court Breakfast Table

Fun With SCOTUS Stats
An email conversation about the news of the day.
June 26 2009 6:55 PM

The Supreme Court Breakfast Table


Dahlia and Walter:

I started off this week with some statistics about the term so far. Math-challenged as I am, I'm bemused to now find myself the Breakfast Table's unofficial statistician, but here are some updates and new data: It's striking that with just three decisions to go, Justice Kennedy has the fewest majority opinions so far this term: only six. Justice Scalia has the most: 10. Here are the others: Thomas, nine; Stevens, nine; Roberts, eight; Breyer, eight; Souter, eight; Alito, seven; Ginsburg, seven.

From the court's April argument sitting, consisting of 10 cases, only two are undecided: Ricci, the New Haven firefighter case, and Cuomo v. Clearing House (bank regulation preemption). Kennedy is the only justice with no opinions from April. That makes it quite likely that he has Ricci—not, one would suppose, very good news for New Haven. The third remaining case, Citizens United v. F.E.C. (campaign finance) is the only undecided case from March, a sitting that had only six arguments. Roberts, Alito, and Ginsburg are all without opinions from March. I'm betting that the chief has that case. He is interested in the subject, and is not likely to go without an opinion for a whole sitting, albeit a sparse one.

There have now been 72 cases decided with full opinions, of which 21 have been decided by a vote of 5-4. Of these 21, 16 have been the usual four versus the usual four, with Kennedy joining the conservatives 11 times and the liberals five times. Kennedy has been in dissent in three of the 5-4 cases that broke the usual pattern, including two decided yesterday (Atlantic Sounding and Melendez-Diaz), plus Arizona v. Gant. He has cast four dissenting votes all term.

Here is how the others line up in terms of dissenting votes cast: Roberts, 12; Thomas, 13; Alito, 13; Scalia, 14—for a conservative total of 52 dissenting votes. On the other end of the bench: Breyer, 18; Ginsburg, 23; Souter, 24; Stevens, 27—for a liberal dissenting-vote total of 92. (This last set of numbers is open to debate—I am counting Stevens and Ginsburg as having cast dissenting votes yesterday in the strip-search case based on their concurring/dissenting opinion that would have denied qualified immunity to the school officials, but one could certainly argue that it's more significant that they joined the Souter majority in the Fourth Amendment holding.)

Aren't numbers fun? I never used to think so.




The World’s Politest Protesters

The Occupy Central demonstrators are courteous. That’s actually what makes them so dangerous.

The Religious Right Is Not Happy With Republicans  

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:58 PM The Religious Right Is Not Happy With Republicans  

The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You: It Spreads Slowly

The Feds Have Declared War on New Privacy Measures From Apple and Google

These “Dark” Lego Masterpieces Are Delightful and Evocative


Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.


Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Europe’s Next Digital Commissioner Thinks Keeping Nude Celebrity Photos in the Cloud Is “Stupid”

Piper Kerman on Why She Dressed Like a Hitchcock Heroine for Her Prison Sentencing

  News & Politics
Oct. 1 2014 7:26 PM Talking White Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.
Oct. 1 2014 2:16 PM Wall Street Tackles Chat Services, Shies Away From Diversity Issues 
Oct. 1 2014 6:02 PM Facebook Relaxes Its “Real Name” Policy; Drag Queens Celebrate
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 6:39 PM Spoiler Special: Transparent
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Commissioner Thinks Keeping Nude Celeb Photos in the Cloud Is “Stupid”
  Health & Science
Oct. 1 2014 4:03 PM Does the Earth Really Have a “Hum”? Yes, but probably not the one you’re thinking.
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?