Early OT09 Stats

I’ve finally finished the first edition of my OT09 statistics.

First, the links: Term Index and Term Opinion Breakdown. Honestly, the names don’t mean much and last year I called the same charts “Term_Index” and “Term_Index_2,” respectively.

The Term Index lists each case by the sitting in which it was heard. For each case, you can see 1) the author of the majority opinion, 2) the number of days between oral arguments and a decision, 3) the decision split (9-0, 8-1, etc.), 4) and the judgement (Affirmed, Remanded, Vacated and Remanded, etc.).

The Term Index will also help you play everyone’s second favorite game*: guess the author of the opinion. For example, there are four undecided opinions in the October sitting and three Justices have not released any opinions from the term. Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Breyer have written two opinions from October already so they almost certainly will not receive third assignments. Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Ginsburg have both released two opinions from November (not shown above) and that fact decreases the likelihood of them authoring two opinions in October (although it does happen with some frequency). Beyond those clues, you’d have to know something about each case or historical authorship over different subjects. If Justice Stevens expects to retire this term, he may assign himself a greater number of blockbuster opinions (US v. Stevens, Salazar v. Buono). On the other hand, Justice Kennedy’s penchant for first amendment cases and his position at the Court’s ideological center make him more likely to author those same opinions.

I’m not sure how to deal with cases that are argued but later disposed of with a per curiam opinion. This year, the only case that has been handled this way is Briscoe and I’ve taken it off of the Opinion Breakdown because of the way it messed up different calculations. I’ve left Briscoe on the Term Index but I might change that in the next version.

The OT09 Opinion Breakdown provides interesting insight into the speed in which Justices author opinions.

This chart is pretty empty right now, but by the end of the term, this should become really interesting.

*Of course, everyone’s favorite game is to guess who will retire at the end of the term.


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