You can now download the final SCOTUSblog Stat Pack for October Term 2017 here. This year, the 45-page Stat Pack includes information about, among other things, the rate of unanimity, the opinions written by Justice Anthony Kennedy in his last term, agreement among different justices, the distribution of majority opinions by senior justice, which justices asked the most questions at oral argument, and the advocates who argued the most frequently during the term.
Below you can view each section of the Stat Pack individually and review our key takeaways from the Stat Pack.
We would like to thank all of the individuals who provided comments and feedback on the Stat Pack throughout the term. Our Stat Pack is compiled as a labor of love, and once again the SCOTUSblog community has been hugely influential in shaping the content and design of our statistics. If you have any comments, suggestions or corrections, please do not hesitate to send me an email.
Majority opinion authorship: Some justices are more likely to write opinions in divided cases than others. In many years, senior justices write more divided cases than their junior colleagues because they can assign close cases to themselves. Remarkably, by at least one measure, Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote more frequently in divided cases than any other justice during OT17. Five of the seven majority opinions he wrote during OT17 came in 5-4 cases, which also constituted five out of the 19 total 5-4 cases from the term. By comparison, four out of the seven majority opinions authored by Justice Sonia Sotomayor came in 9-0 cases, and she did not write the majority opinion in any 5-4 or 6-3 cases. See Stat Pack, page 13.
Below is the breakdown of opinions for each justice:
Sotomayor was the least likely to appear in the majority, casting majority votes in 50 out of 73 cases (68.5%). This is the sixth highest rate of dissent by a justice in a single term during the Roberts court era:
Oral argument – Advocates: Due in part to turnover in the Office of the Solicitor General and the proliferation of state solicitors general, the average “age” of the advocates who appeared during OT17 dropped from the previous year. The average law school graduation year for an advocate during OT17 was 1997, up from the OT16 average of 1994. Twenty-two advocates argued during OT17 within their first 10 years of graduating law school, again up from 14 in OT16. While the most recent law school graduates who argued during OT16 completed law school in 2007, this term there was one attorney from the class of 2013, two from the class of 2012, one from the class of 2011, and four from the class of 2010.
This term also saw the fewest oral argument appearances by women since we began tracking that statistic in OT10, 19 (12%). See Stat Pack, page 33.