A Variety of 5-4 Opinions

Bullcoming v. New Mexico was not the only 5-4 decision handed down by the Court today — and it did not present the only 5-4 lineup. Here are the others.

In Stern v. Marshall, the latest installment of the Ana Nicole Smith inheritance saga, the Court split along traditional ideological lines, with the conservatives prevailing. The question involved the jurisdiction of bankruptcy courts. The same split was seen in PLVIA v. Mensing, a pharmaceutical liability preemption case, although the majority splintered on some aspects of the decision.

The Court also split along traditional ideological lines in Freeman v. United States, but this time Justice Kennedy joined the four liberal justices to hold that criminal defendants who enter into plea agreements can benefit from retroactive changes to the sentencing guidelines.

In CSX Transportation v. McBride, however, the split was somewhat different, with Justice Thomas joining the Court’s four liberal to form the majority on the application of the Federal Employers’ Liability Act.

There was one more decision, a 6-3 decision in Sorrell v. IMS Health, a commercial free speech case in which Justice Sotomayor joined the five conservative justices in the majority.