Each year, various organizations tally up a variety of facts and figures related to decisions of the Supreme Court. This year is no different, although some of the figures are surprising. We wish to attribute the following information to SCOTUSblog.com, which is an excellent resource for following events at the Supreme Court.
The Court issued 75 merit opinions in the 2008 term that ended last week. Four additional cases were summarily reversed without substantive commentary. Of those 79 cases in which opinions were issued, 60 (or 75.9%) were either reversed or vacated by the Supreme Court. Sixteen were affirmed. Needless to say, when the Supreme Court grants certiorari in a case, the appellant has historically faired much better than the appellee.
Of all of the Federal Circuit decisions before the Court this term, 16 (20.3%) were from the Ninth Circuit which covers California and several other western states. Thirteen of the 16 cases were reversed by the Court. Seven Circuits, including our very own and very conservative Fourth Circuit, had all of their decisions reversed (4th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 10th and DC). The Eleventh Circuit was the only circuit to have all of its cases (three) affirmed.
Twenty-three opinions were 5-4 decisions. Fifteen decisions were unanimously decided. Thirteen decisions were 6-3. Of the 5-4 decisions, 69.6% or 16 decisions were along ideological lines, with the left (Justices Stevens, Souter, Breyer and Ginsburg) in the majority in five cases, and the right (Chief Justice Roberts, Justices Scalia, Thomas, Alito and Kennedy) in the majority in eleven cases. Justice Kennedy was part of the majority in eighteen of the twenty-three 5-4 decisions. Justice Kennedy is obviously the most important “swing vote” on the Court, which is trending more conservative in the last few years, which is expected to continue even with the like appointment of Sonia Sotomayor.
The Court has recessed until September 2009. The attorneys at Belsky, Weinberg & Horowitz, LLC will continue to monitor and post all developments and opinions rendered by the Supreme Court we believe may have some impact on the clients we represent. Although the vast majority of cases involves matters of criminal and corporate law, any cases involving torts, damages, liens, bankruptcy and civil matters will be reported.
Happy Fourth of July to all!