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Latest Stat Pack

An update to our preliminary Stat Pack is now available.  (For comparison, see the first (April 28) and second (May 24) editions.)   It covers decisions in all October Term 2009 cases as of the most recent release of orders and opinions, Monday, June 7.  The separate charts in it are:

We will include more charts in the subsequent versions of the Stat Pack that we will release later this Term.  For all of the blog’s statistics reports from OT95 onward, please see our archives on SCOTUSwiki here.

Note: Starting with this edition of the Stat Pack, we are changing the classification of two cases — Conkright v. Frommert and Stolt-Nielson S.A. v. AnimalFeeds International — in which only eight Justices voted, from six-three to five-four.  We made this change because we believe that the vote was more likely to have been five-four if all nine Justices had participated.

This month, we certainly expect opinions on Monday the 14th, Thursday the 17th, Monday the 21st, and Monday the 28th. Beyond that, the Court often issues opinions on Thursdays and sometimes Wednesdays during the final weeks of the Term; it will depend on when opinions are ready for release.

Below the jump are key take-aways from the Stat Pack, as well as a few points of comparison with last month’s edition.

  • There are sixty-one decided merits cases and four merits cases that were dismissed.  (We exclude Briscoe v. Virginia (because we do not regard it as having been decided on the merits) and Citizens United (an OT08 case).)  Of the sixty-one, forty-nine are in argued cases, two are in cases decided before argument, and ten are summary dispositions.
  • Of the sixty-one decided cases, thirty (forty-nine percent) are unanimous, while only eight are five-four splits.  The Court has already surpassed the number of total unanimous opinions it issued during each of the last three Terms (twenty-six in OT08, twenty-one in OT07, and twenty-eight in OT06); this is partly because there are more summary reversals this Term.  Since we issued our last version of the Stat Pack two weeks ago, the Court has split five-four on only one new decision, Berghuis v. Thompkins.
  • Chief Justice Roberts has still dissented in only one argued case decided on the merits this Term (South Carolina v. North Carolina).  By contrast, Justice Stevens has dissented fourteen times in such cases, authoring eight of those dissenting opinions.
  • Among the eight merits opinions released in the two weeks since our last Stat Pack, Justice Ginsburg dissented in three, nearly doubling her total number of dissents; she has now dropped below Justices Alito and Sotomayor in her frequency in the majority.
  • Justice Sotomayor has not participated in five decided cases, while Justice Alito has not participated in one; no other Justices have recused themselves this Term from decided cases.
  • There are twenty-four outstanding argued cases.  The Court has begun to produce opinions from recent sittings: it has already decided two cases each from the April and March sittings.  It has still not yet decided two from the November sitting (Schwab v. Reilly and Bilski v. Kappos).  Only Justices Stevens and Thomas have yet to author opinions for the Court from that sitting.  Four are from the December sitting (Stop the Beach Renourishment v. Florida, Free Enterprise Fund v. Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, Black v. United States, and Weyhrauch v. United States).   The only Justices who have not yet authored opinions from that sitting are Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Scalia and Kennedy.
  • Four Justices — the Chief Justice and Justices Thomas, Ginsburg, and Alito — have not yet authored an opinion from the February sitting.  The outstanding cases from that sitting include Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, Holland v. Florida, Skilling v. United States, and McDonald v. Chicago.
  • Either Justice Kennedy or Justice Alito have authored five of the eight majority opinions in five-four decisions this Term.
  • The Court has granted twenty-four cases for OT10, ten of which originate in the Ninth Circuit.  By this date last Term, the Court had granted thirty-seven cases for OT09.

Thanks to Kedar Bhatia for his helpful cross-checking of this data.