SCOTUS for Stats Geeks

The folks over at SCOTUSblog do some amazing work crunching various Supreme Court statistics for those curious about how justices line up, who is doing their fair share of opinion writing, and many other more mundane details of high court life. A summary memo on the latest term can be found here. Meanwhile, anyone interested in taking a deeper look at the numbers behind the summary can look at a few terms worth of statistics here. Finally, Brent Kendall at the Wall St. Journal's legal blog picked out some choice tidbits from the analysis. Among the more interesting include the following:

'This year we learn that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg asked the first question at oral argument 27% of the time, slightly edging out Justice Antonin Scalia for the lead.

Scalia, like most of his colleagues, seems to ask more questions in tough cases than easy ones. He asked an average of 30 questions per argument in cases ultimately decided on a 5-4 vote, but only 24 per argument in cases decided unanimously. (Justice Clarence Thomas was amazingly consistent, asking no questions in either the 5-4 or 9-0 cases.)

When it comes to writing speed, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the court’s fastest author this term, destroyed Justice Anthony Kennedy, the slowest. Her opinions were released on average 43 days sooner than his. Then again, he had more 5-4 opinions to write.

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito were the most like-minded pair on the court, agreeing 96.2% of the time, according to SCOTUSblog. Alito and Ginsburg took the oil-and-water award by agreeing the least, just 62.5% of the time.

On weightier matters, the report notes that the court’s five-justice conservative majority banded together in 63% of the 5-4 decisions this term, a new record of conservative solidarity for the Roberts Court. Nearly 88% of the court’s 5-4 decisions fell along ideological lines, with the moderate-conservative Kennedy floating between the conservative and liberal camps.'

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