October Term 2004 Statistics:
Tom Goldstein has posted several .pdfs containing statistics about the voting alignments in the recently completed Supreme Court Term. (This used to be a job for the Harvard Law Review's annual Supreme Court issue, but thanks to G&H's summer associates and the blogosphere more generally, such stats will be old news by the time the issue comes out in the coming winter.) Some particularly notable findings:
The Court's conservative majority (WHR, SOC, AS, AMK, CT) held together in only 5 of 24 (21%) of the 5-4 cases this Term. This represents a notable drop from the previous two terms, when the conservative majority held together in nearly half of the 5-4 cases, and a departure from the relatively higher levels of coherence observed in previous years of the Rehnquist Court.(Aside: if the group holds together in only 21% of the closely divided cases, isn't it time to stop referring to the group as a "conservative majority"?) The most common pairings of Justices that agreed in full on the resolution of merits cases:
Chief Justice Rehnquist and Justice Kennedy agreed in full in 77% of the cases that they both heard (53/69). Three other pairs of justices also agreed in full 70% or more of the time: Rehnquist-O`Connor (77%), Souter-Ginsburg (71%), and Stevens-Ginsburg (70%).I hope to post some end-of-Term commentary soon, but Goldstein's stats provide lots to mull over in the meantime.