SCOTUS Opinion Stats: 5/30/2017

Empirical SCOTUS has analytics from today’s opinions (May 30, 2017). These are organized a bit differently from last week’s results.  We’ve included a measure for opinion readability using the Gunning Fog Index (lower scores tend to equate to easier reading).  The most frequent words in each majority opinion are also provided.

The Court release four decisions today in the cases: County of Los Angeles v. Mendez, BNSF R. Co. v. Tyrrell, Esquivel-Quintana v. Sessions, Impression Products, Inc. v. Lexmark Int’l, Inc. (individual links are to the opinions. For more information on the cases see SCOTUSBlog’s 2016 term list of cases).  One particularly noteworthy addition to today’s opinions was Justice Gorsuch’s participation in BNSF which is the first majority decision that included his vote.

Sheet 1

Lexmark, one of the more awaited decisions of this term was also the longest majority opinion of the day. Below are comparisons of the opinions’ readability scores.

Sheet 2.png

Although all opinions score towards the very readable side of the readability spectrum, Justice Thomas’ majority opinion in Esquivel ranks as the most complex of the bunch.

Next are additional metrics for each opinion. These include distinctive word count, sentence count, average words per sentence, and length of the longest sentence.

Mendez Majority
Distinct Words855
Words per Sentence10.76
Longest Sentence (Words)61
BNSF Majority
Distinct Words846
Words per Sentence7.19
Longest Sentence (Words)57
BNSF – concur and dissent in part
Distinct Words474
Words per Sentence8.74
Longest Sentence (Words)53
Esquivel Majority
Distinct Words773
Words per Sentence11.55
Longest Sentence (Words)63
Lexmark Majority
Distinct Words1209
Words per Sentence11.28
Longest Sentence (Words)56
Lexmark – concur and dissent in part
Distinct Words284
Words per Sentence5.8
Longest Sentence (Words)36

Finally, there are graphs for the most frequent words in each majority opinion beginning with Mendez.


On Twitter: @AdamSFeldman

0 Comments Add yours

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.