When he was nominated to the Supreme Court, Chief Justice Roberts mentioned that one of his main objectives as chief justice would be to create more consensus on the Court and to forge a greater number of unanimous decisions. Lets see how successful he’s been after five years.

I considered October Terms 1995 – 2009. That includes ten terms under Chief Justice Rehnquist (OT95-OT04) and five terms under Chief Justice Roberts (OT05-OT09). I’ve excluded OT10 because the court tends to release unanimous opinions frequently in the beginning of the term and more divided opinions towards the end.

9-0 8-1 7-2 6-3 5-4
OT95-04 46% 7% 13% 13% 21%
OT05-09 41% 8% 17% 12% 22%

It doesn’t look like there has been much of a change, but there has been quite a bit of volatility during the Roberts Court. During OT05, for example, the Court split 5-4 in only 12% of cases but in the next term, OT06, the justices split 5-4 in a staggering 33% of cases.

Since OT05, the Court has split 5-4 in 12%, 33%, 17%, 29%, and 18% of cases, respectively. During the current term, there have been no 5-4 decisions and 68% (19 cases) have been unanimous. As I mentioned earlier, however, there will be significant deviation to the mean as the Court releases the most difficult decisions of the term.

*All of this data comes from SCOTUSblog stat packs.


2 Responses to “Chief Justice Roberts and Unanimous Decisions”

  1. 1 Emily Brobst

    I hope it will be found by the Court that AZ is within her rights to protect her border with Mexico, as criminal gangs pour through, knowing there is no one willing to stop their incursion.

    Wednesday’s Washington Times ran yet another piece on drug gangs having free reign to terrorize any and all who try to resist them. Yet it seems the president and weak politicians will not even try to rein them in. I believe in this case it should be found that states’ rights, through the 10th Amendment, should prevail.

    We have been invaded. We do not have an honest Justice Department or AG. They are corrupt. The American people are desperate for principled leadership.

    Please help us. Let Sotomayor and Kagan recuse themselves, perhaps?

  2. 2 sanghalawyers

    This article is really good to read and very good information to me,write these kind of the of articles and share.


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