I have to apologize for the lack of posts over the last few days. I’ve been working on an amicus brief in Ricci v. DeStefano and I need to submit it sooner rather than later.
Regardless, the Court probably won’t be handing down any opinions until mid- to late-February. In the last three years, the Court hasn’t released an opinion in February earlier than the 20th, but they’ve always released a slew of opinions within a few days.
OT 2007- February 20(T), 21(W) – 5 opinions
OT 2006- February 20(M), 21(T) – 5 opinions
OT 2005- February 21(M), 22(T) – 6 opinions (plus 3 per curiam)
The only reason I think they might have for not releasing a lot of opinions then is that they’re already slightly ahead of schedule on releasing opinions. These are the number of cases dismissed by the Court by the end of January:
OT 2008 – 16 cases, 5 per curiam opinions
OT 2007 – 11 cases, 3 per curiam opinions
OT 2006 – 12 cases, 2 per curiam opinions
OT 2005 – 20 cases, 6 per curiam opinions
Its a fools-errand to speculate on which cases the Court will hand down (or even when), but I would imagine that we’ll see either FCC v. Fox or Pleasant Grove, the two high-interest cases, sometime before the end of March. High profile cases normally take longer than usual to come down, assuming the average number of days been oral arguments and opinion release is 90-95 days. These cases come from OT06 and OT07.
OT06 – Average 92.65
Massachusetts v. EPA – (Executive Power) – 125 days
Gonzales v. Carhart – (Abortion) – 164
Ledbetter v. Goodyear – (Equal Pay) – 184
Morse v. Frederick – (Free Speech) – 98
FEC v. WRTL – (Campaign Finance) – 61
Parents Involved v. Seattle School District – (Racial Classifications) – 206
OT07 – Average 94.46
Medellin v. Texas – (International Law/Executive)- 167
Baze v. Rees – (Death Penalty) – 100
Boumediene v. Bush – (Detainees) – 190
Kennedy v. Louisiana – (Death Penalty) – 70
DC v. Heller – (Second Amendment) – 100
I think its also important to note which month cases were argued in. Cases argued in April have an obvious time limit and cases on the first day of October could conceivably take over 250 days to be decided. I looked at the average number of days between argument and opinion based on month argued for OT07. I considered the cases based on their actual sitting, not necessary the actual date of the argument. (example: Oct. sitting 10/1-10, Nov. sitting 10/29-11/7, Dec. sitting 11/25-12/5). Bear in mind that the average for OT07 was about 94 days (once I took out the cases that were dismissed per curiam a week after they were heard.)
October – 123 days
November – 110
December – 101
January – 109
February – 107
March – 72
April – 61
So it looks like the average for a case decided in October or November is actually quite a bit longer than the average over the whole term. Not surprising.