The Court missed its hand-down opportunities this week (although the Justices favored us with another summary reversal on Monday, with Porter v. McCollum). Orders are expected Monday, and thus, as Roy Englert noted in the comment thread of my last post on this subject, it is probably out as a hand-down day for opinions in argued cases, since the Court tends not to issue opinions in argued cases on Mondays when it is both releasing orders and hearing argument. Thus, the first regular hand-down day of next week is December 8.
The Court thus appears to be on a glide-path to at least tie the latest initial hand-down day of the postwar era. (I’m obsessive-compulsive, but only obsessive-compulsive enough to check the stats back to October Term 1946; see my last post on the subject for the data.) The two other contenders are OT2007 and OT1984, both of which began on October 1 and had the first argued hand-down on December 4, a period of 64 days. If the first opinion in an argued case this Term is released on Tuesday, December 8, that will again be the 64th day of the Term. Of course, the arguments for the cases that will be decided this Term began during OT2008, on September 9, with Citizens United.
The slow start may portend significant dissents. (That said, I don’t recall many significant dissents among the first decisions out of OT07 or OT84, although the first opinions in OT07 were from the November sitting.) The Court’s four per curiam summary reversals (a high number for this early in the Term) may be contributing, but I don’t think they explain all the delay. We will see.