I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’m getting antsy waiting for the first substantive opinion (from an argued case) of the year. Its almost December now and the Court hasn’t released anything save for a 4-4 split ‘decision’ in Tom F. (here) and a clarification of a lower court misunderstanding arising from the 2005 case Pace v. DiGuglielmo in Allen v. Siebert (here).

Last year, the Supreme Court issued a Per Curiam reversal on October 10 and issued its first opinion from arguments on November 13. Three weeks later, the opinions started flowing in with two on December 5 and two on December 11. The first opinion from argument last year was a 5-4 decision (with conservatives on top) so the derisiveness of a case isn’t always a good predictor of how long the opinion-writing process will take. Generally, however, the most controversial cases will be published after the longest intervals. Last year, Parents Involved (206), Hein (117), Ledbetter (184), Massachusetts v. EPA (125), and Carhart (164) all clocked in well above the average of 92.65 days. Some cases though, like FEC v. WRTL (61) and Morse (91), are controversial and manage to be churned out with surprising speed.

This year I expect more of the same. Before the Court leaves for its holiday break, I think we will see 4 cases before the end of December. Keep in mind that I have a knack for being completely wrong, but the court seems to be behind this year on nearly everything and there is no reason to believe that they will feel any pressure to expediate the writing process. On the other hand, they have heard fewer cases this year than in OT2006, so they may have more time to focus on the opinions at hand. Look to see one or two opinions released early next week. Expect Gall for sure because it is simply a continuation of a case from last year and expect to see 3 out of 4 from Wash. State Grange, Kimbrough, Torres, and Santos.

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