Last year I wrote a post called Avoiding Entangling Alliances, which provided some end of term observations. Here’s the first similar look at this term.
In the 2007 Term, only 35 cases were decided by the full 5-judge court. Of those 35 cases, 48.6% (17/35) were decided unanimously but only 11% (4/35) were decided by 3-2 votes. [By “decided unanimously” and “unanimous court” in this context, I mean a case in which there is an opinion of the court and no separate opinion — not even a concurring opinion.]
This full term produced 65 opinions of the court. A very slightly higher percentage — 50.8% (33/65) — were decided by a unanimous court. But the percentage of 3-2 decisions almost doubled to 21.5% (14/65).
Among all cases decided, Judge Ryan had the most dissenting votes (10) while Chief Judge Effron and Judge Erdmann tied for the least (5). Judge Baker dissented 7 times and Judge Stucky 9.
In the 14 3-2 decisions, Judge Erdmann was the most likely to be in the majority (11/14). Chief Judge Effron and Judge Baker tied for second most likely (9/14). Judge Stucky was slightly behind (8/14), while Judge Ryan was the least likely to be in the majority in a 3-2 decision (5/14).
No strong voting bloc has emerged. The two judges most likely to vote together are Chief Judge Effron and Judge Baker. The two judges least likely to vote together are Judges Baker and Stucky. Here, from most likely to least likely, are the pairings:
1. Chief Judge Effron & Judge Baker
2. Judges Erdmann and Ryan
3. Chief Judge Effron & Judge Erdmann
Chief Judge Effron & Judge Stucky (tie)
5. Judges Stucky & Ryan
6. Judges Baker & Erdmann
7. Judges Baker & Ryan
Judges Erdmann & Stucky (tie)
9. Chief Judge Effron & Judge Ryan
10. Judges Baker & Stucky
[One caveat: for purposes of this analysis, voting together means voting for the same outcome. So if two judges each voted to affirm, but one wrote the majority opinion and the other concurred in the result, they would be counted as voting together. Similarly, if two judges dissented separately, they would be counted as voting together.]