The Court’s Recent Lack of Support for the Federal Government’s Agenda

This is the first of a series of two posts examining the federal government’s litigation in the Supreme Court. While this post looks at the last several terms of government litigation, the next will analyze the government’s upcoming cases.   The federal government, through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), is the most frequent…

The Three Shifts of Chief Justice John Roberts

Chief Justice John Roberts’ resume is not remarkably unique for a Supreme Court Justice. That is not to say that it is not impressive. There is scant evidence of an imperfection from his Harvard undergrad and law school education, appellate and Supreme Court clerkships, work in the Solicitor General’s Office, big firm law practice, and…

Still A Conservative Court

It’s a new day for the Supreme Court. We are in uncharted territory with this current Supreme Court vacancy with no end in sight.  In some respect this has led to a liberal shift in the Court’s general demeanor – especially since this is the first time in decades that conservative Justices have not held a majority…

Justice Ginsburg: Political and Efficient All Wrapped Up in One

Once on the Supreme Court the Justices have a few essential obligations. Add to this life-tenure and lots of free time while the Court is in recess and the job sounds pretty enviable. The Justices still must hear oral arguments, meet and vote to decide cases, and grant new cases for the Court to hear…

Quick Note: Roberts Court Majority Opinion Assignment

Who decides which Justice authors a given majority opinion?  There is, of course, the necessity that this Justice is part of the majority coalition. Beyond that though there are two main rules.  The first is that the Chief Justice assigns the opinion if the Chief is a member of the majority.  If the Chief is…

Quick Note: 5-4 Decisions and Equally Divided Votes Since 1946

This Term was nothing if not unique.  The Justices had to sort through a majority of the decisions with one Justice missing.  With a Court of eight, the Justices could not possibly come to 5-4 decisions.  The Supreme Court was officially set at the size of nine members in 1869 and Congress has not changed…

King of Dissents

  In a time of transition in the Supreme Court, much attention is paid to the Court’s ideological pulse. Justices Thomas and Alito, two of the more conservative Justices on the Court are the top two dissenter so far this Term (see below). Justice Thomas in particular was noted for his lone dissent in the death…

Signs of a Gridlocked SCOTUS

Congress has historically low levels of public approval.  Current Gallup Polls place Congress’ approval rating at around 18%.    The Supreme Court’s approval rating tends to hover much higher – generally around the 50% level.  One reason for this disparity is from sense that the Supreme Court does not engage in politics in the manner of other…

Friedrichs as a Per Curiam Decision

The Court released its decision today in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Assn.  The decision which has garnered considerable attention is a single sentence reading: “The judgment is affirmed by an equally divided Court.”  From this we know the Justices split 4-4 and so there was no precedential value to the ruling, and that by doing this the Court…

Much Ado About Nothing?

Today the Supreme Court decided the seemingly innocuous case of Hawkins v. Community Bank of Raymore.  This case dealt with the liability of spousal guarantors under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act.  On any other day this ruling might have gone unnoticed.  The decision is one line reading, “The judgment is affirmed by an equally divided…