SCOTUS by the Numbers

2013-02-27T165334Z_1_CBRE91Q1AXE00_RTROPTP_3_USREPORT-US-USA-COURT-VOTING-ARGUMENT_JPG_475x310_q85In case you haven’t had the time to follow voting patterns of the SCOTUS, the scotusblog has done the work for you.

Their chart on agreement over all cases for the October term, 2012, tells us that the justices agree more often than not.  For example, Scalia agreed with Ginsburg (in full, part, or in the judgment only) a full 74% of the time while Roberts’s lowest agreement rate with any judge was 71%.  The lowest agreement rate between any two justices was that of Alito and Sotomayor at 64% while the highest agreement rate overall was 97% between Sotomayor and Kagan.

But it may be more interesting to consider how they line up on divided cases and  5-4 cases.  As for divided cases, the pairs of Sotomayor & Kagan, Sotomayor & Ginsburg, and Kagan & Ginsburg agreed between 89.7% and 93.2% of the time. The three lady justices had 100% agreement on the 5-4 decisions.

The highest agreement level from the other wing of the court was between Roberts and Alito, who were together on 75.9% of divided cases and 100% of the 5-4 decisions . Roberts and Thomas agreed on 70% of divided cases and 86.7% of 5-4 decisions.  Scalia and Thomas had what is for many the surprisingly low agreement rate of 70% on divided cases and 73.3% of 5-4 decisions.

Overall the most diametrically opposed justices are Alito over against Sotomayor, Ginsburg, and Kagan, with no more than 21.4% agreement between Alito and any of them on divided cases and 0% on 5-4 decisions.  Other notable disagreements are Thomas against the lady justices and Scalia against Breyer, the latter two having had only 27.6 % agreement on divided cases and 0% on 5-4 decisions.

On the whole the data shows consistent agreement among Sotomayor, Kagan, and Ginsburg with Breyer not far out of step.  The other alignment is Alito, Roberts, Thomas, and Scalia. Conspicuously missing from the chart of most extreme agreement rates is Justice Kennedy, who must get a lot of attention from his colleagues while close decisions are being discussed.


Filed under Courts

10 responses to “SCOTUS by the Numbers

  1. Richard

    Taking any bets on what SCOTUS will have to say tomorrow on the marriage cases? And the outrage we will hear from the “christian” right?

    • Richard, I kinda sorta predicted earlier that DOMA will be ruled unconstitutional and Prop 8 will be upheld. I will be suprised if DOMA survives, but will not be surprised by any result on Prop 8, including the SCOTUS dropping back to punt based on lack of standing.

      Las Vegas is giving 2-1 odds that there will be four votes to uphold Prop 8 but won’t given any odds on Kagan voting to strike it down. The odds against Alito and Ginsburg agreeing on Prop 8 are 80-1.

      Yup, there should be odds on SCOTUS rulings. That would rev up interest – there would be a SCOTUS fantasy league, The SCOTUS Channel, and SCOTUS stat geeks. Think of buying a black robe with “SCALIA” written across the back.

      • Richard

        I’m an Alito guy myself. I agree–I expect DOMA will be struck down. I expect much wailing and gnashing of teeth from some in our quarters.

      • Oh, certainly there will be. As for me, I’m fine with DOMA being struck down. The feds should let states decide what a marriage is. But of course, the culture warrior is not as interested in proper form and structure as in amassing ad hoc “victories” wherever they can be achieved.

        Anyway, in the case at hand the plaintiff has to pay hefty taxes if DOMA applies, and not if it doesn’t. That’s not defending marriage.

    • Richard

      Yeah, what about w-w? And why do the Phillies still stink, Dr. Hart?

    • Hmmm, let me think of how the w-w-ists would analyze this. If Alito can be taken to be the most right wing judge, his presuppositions must be the most imbued by Christian theism. If Kagan can be taken to be a very left wing judge, she has the greatest deficit of Christian theistic presuppositions. But then, they agreed 65% of the time, so apparently there is a 2/3 overlap of theistic and non theistic presuppositions? Or maybe she used borrowed epistemological capital to get to the 65% mark. But don’t question that there are uniquely Christian conclusions to Supreme Court decisions – you will only reveal that you lack the requiste w_w.

      Now, just to confuse the reader, let it be known that I have a Fathead of Scalia banging his gavel in our family room. Not really, but that would be cool.

  2. Richard

    Well–what do we win, MLM?

  3. mikelmann

    We win all the fame associated with correct predictions in blog comment sections. Put a garland on your head and do a stately walk to the dinner table tonight. And I’ll tell my wife – she’ll be like a cheerleader dating the captain of the football team. Right.

  4. Richard

    I’m glad I don’t listen to talk radio or “Christian” radio. I imagine the Jay Sekulow types are going nuts about now. I’d rather listen to Schubert.

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