Posted Thu, Jul 2, 2020 at 1:15 pm by Adam Feldman
As the Supreme Court term ends in 2019-2020, the discussion among court observers continues to focus on Chief Justice John Roberts' decision-making. Much has been done to support the more liberal judges when he passed an abortion law for Louisiana in June. Medical Services LLC v. Russo and the program for delayed measures on arrival of children (at least temporarily) in the Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of the University of California. Roberts' positions in these cases surprised many, and for good reason: he wrote a strongly worded dissent in the precedent case of June Medical, Whole Woman & # 39; s Health v. Hellerstedt, and wrote the majority opinion in which the President's travel ban Donald Trump confirmed about the dissent of the four more liberal judges in Trump against Hawaii.
Despite these decisions, the numbers believe that Roberts' role as "swing" justice is similar to justice Anthony Kennedy. So far, Roberts has sided with the liberal judges in just two 5-4 decisions – the two above. During the same period he was on the side of the more conservative judges nine times. This seems to be the norm for Roberts. Although he has joined the more liberal judges in the past in other high-profile decisions, perhaps most notably in the National Federation of Independent Businesses' Obamacare decisions against Sebelius and King against Burwell, he has often sided with his conservative colleagues in narrowly divided decisions posed .
Roberts can be described more precisely as medium justice. As justice in the ideological center of the court, he is almost always in the majority. He contradicted Louisiana only once during this term in Ramos, which dealt with the jury's requirements for the sixth constitutional amendment for serious crimes. The dissent written by Judge Samuel Alito in this case was supported not only by Roberts but also by her more liberal colleague Justice Elena Kagan.
Judge Brett Kavanaugh was also quite often in the majority of the court with 94 percent during this term, just like judge Neil Gorsuch with 87 percent. Apart from these three judges, the rest of the judges were in the majority at 70 to 80 percent of the time.
The contract numbers tend to reveal the ideological distance of the judges from each other and reflect the polarization between the more conservative and more liberal judges of the court. During this term, no judges agreed at least 90 percent of the time. If you look at the looser match threshold in whole or in part, only two couples exceed this 90 percent threshold: judges Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg with 94 percent and Roberts and Kavanaugh with 92 percent.
At the other end of the spectrum, we see low numbers for complete agreement for some expected and less expected pairings. Justice Clarence Thomas has only approved Justice Sonia Sotomayor during this term, and Ginsburg only 26 percent of the time. Alito only approved Ginsburg and Sotomayor 30 percent of the time. Perhaps more surprisingly, Kavanaugh and Thomas only agreed 40 percent, Roberts and Thomas 43 percent, and Alito and Gorsuch 58 percent. These low match rates show that the judges define their own legal paths. With eight remaining presidential decisions, many of which could severely divide the judges, we can see that the number of agreements differing further due to the conclusion of the term.
This preliminary statistical package would not be complete without the tireless efforts of Kalvis Golde and Andrew Hamm.
Interim Stat Pack for the October semester 2019,
SCOTUSblog (July 2, 2020, 1:15 p.m.),