Update on October Term 2012 and updated Stat Pack
on Mar 12, 2013 at 2:51 pm
This is another post in an ongoing series analyzing statistical trends at the Court. For a more complete look at the statistics that we collect on the Court, you can find all of our up-to-date charts and graphs here.
The Court has only two remaining oral argument sittings for the Term and has begun granting cases for October Term 2013, which will begin in seven months. The Court has also released roughly a third of the merits opinions that it will release during the current Term, including an increasing number of its divided opinions. All of this means it is now time to release the next edition of SCOTUSblog’s October Term 2012 Stat Pack. You can download it here.
This edition of the Stat Pack features the following sections:
- Cover Page
- Opinions by Sitting
- Circuit Scorecard
- Cases by Vote Split
- Make-up of the Merits Docket
- Opinion Authorship
- Frequency in the Majority
- Justice Agreement
- Pace of Grants
- Pace of Opinions
The Stat Pack reveals several interesting trends, some of which are discussed below.
Majority Opinion Authorship: For the second Term in a row, Justice Ginsburg has released the most majority opinions through the end of the February sitting. She has now released five majority opinions; the Chief Justice follows her with four majority opinions, including two from the January sitting. Justice Sotomayor has released more dissenting opinions than majority opinions: she has three dissenting opinions, compared with only two majority opinions. The total opinion tally for each Justice follows below.
The pace at which Justice Kennedy is releasing opinions continues to lag behind that of his colleagues, continuing a trend that has been seen in recent years. His custom of taking longer with majority opinions likely reflects that he is often scheduled to write difficult majority opinions, especially in higher-profile cases. Moreover, he is often assigned to write the majority opinion in divided cases, in which other Justices draft accompanying concurring and dissenting opinions. For example, during October Term 2011, there were an average of 2.7 dissenting Justices in cases in which Justice Kennedy authored the majority opinion, more than the average for any other Justice. Cases in which Justice Kennedy authored the majority opinion featured an average of 1.8 concurring or dissenting opinions, second only to the Chief Justice’s majority opinions, which featured an average of 2.4 concurring or dissenting opinions.
Both of the Justices who have released the most majority opinions, the Chief Justice and Justice Ginsburg, have written a high percentage of majority opinions in 9-0 cases. All four of the Chief Justice’s majority opinions came in 9-0 cases, as did four of Justice Ginsburg’s five majority opinions.
Pace of Opinions: The Court has begun granting cases for October Term 2013. Right now, it has granted seven cases, well within its normal average for this point in the Term.
Frequency in the Majority: This edition of the Stat Pack introduces our Frequency in the Majority chart for October Term 2013. Chief Justice Roberts is currently the only Justice who has yet to dissent in any case this Term. Justice Kennedy has dissented in two cases this Term, nearly half as many as he dissented in during the entirety of October Term 2011 (5).