Nine Justices Ten Years Statistical Retrospective

Jackson, Robert J.; Vjgnarajah, Thiruvendran

The 2003 Term marked an unprecedented milestone for the Supreme Court for the first time in history nine Justices celebrated full decade presiding together over the nations highest court The continuity of the current Court is especially striking given that on average one new Justice has been appointed approximately every two years since the Courts expansion to nine members in 1837.2 Although the Harvard Law Review has prepared statistical retrospectives in the past3 the last decade presents rare opportunity to study the Court free from the disruptions of intervening appointments Presented here is review of the 823 cases decided by the Court over the past decade Of course bare statistics cannot capture the nuanced interactions among the Justices nor substantiate any particular theory about the complex dynamics of the Court Rather this statistical compilation and the preliminary observations articulated here are intended only as starting point modest effort to showcase trends that deserve closer attention and to jumpstart more robust analyses of how the Court despite its apparent stability has evolved over the past decade.


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Harvard Law School
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May 20, 2016