Recent Supreme Court Opinions
The most necessary opinions are not essentially one of the best opinions of the Court. While precedential usefulness is one facet of opinion quality, it could be that extra specific choices, using minimalist determination making and fewer future citations, could be higher opinions for explicit instances. Nevertheless, opinion significance stays a key issue in the Court’s decisions. The opinion in Brown, for instance, has seen appreciable criticism relating to its authorized reasoning.
The modern Justices appear to have quite a excessive citation effect normally, but one should be cautious in drawing this conclusion. They have had a comparatively high impact within the quick term, however we don’t yet know the way the era’s opinions will stand the take a look at of time. As seen in Figure eleven, Justice Jackson’s high degree is quite hanging, though the arrogance interval is giant (he had fewer opinions within the data than most others). Justices Scalia and Powell are fairly excessive among the many more trendy Justices with extra opinions to contemplate. Of the then-sitting Court, Justice Rehnquist wrote the most influential opinions in terms of citations.
In truth, this result’s consistent with present work exhibiting that the Supreme Court is most likely to negatively interpret or overrule circumstances that are both ideologically distant from the Justices and that possess higher authorized vitality. Case sort has a plain effect on the significance of precedent. The civil liberties concern area produces more significant precedents for all however district court docket citations.
This may trigger us to underestimate the potential opinion-writing capability of some Justices, but we still can seize the function of individual Justices in the network of legislation. While external circumstances may have conspired towards some Justices, this doesn’t alter the descriptive evaluation of the facility of particular majority opinions.
The more dramatic fundamentalist opinions might overreach and produce outcomes unacceptable to future Courts, addressing completely different units of details. If a Justice leaves things undecided, in his or her minimalism, these undecided issues will not offer opinion language to be cited. By “saying no more than necessary to justify an outcome,” the minimalist leaves much less for future Courts to quote. Lax & Cameron, supra notice 261, at 276–seventy seven (“If the Median Voter Theorem applies, the content of each Supreme Court opinion should devolve to the desires of the median justice; the identity and preferences of the opinion’s writer . . . can’t matter.” (citation omitted)).
The impact may even vary by Chief Justice; one research found that Chief Justice Rehnquist did not self-assign particularly necessary choices of his Court. Forrest Maltzman & Paul J. Wahlbeck, May It Please the Chief? One creator examined the tendency of the Justices to join opinions of other Justices, whatever the ultimate end result of the instances. He found that most of the Rehnquist Court Justices, together with the Chief Justice, had been usually minimalists, with the noteworthy exceptions being Justices Thomas and Scalia.
Most of the Justices regarded as minimalist had high legal relevance scores. When an opinion receives more citations, it is internally quite useful to the Supreme Court’s authorized system.
Per curiam opinions had been persistently much less significant in any respect court docket levels, as anticipated. Such opinions are usually temporary with less material to be cited as authority. In addition, the Court might decide instances per curiam simply because they’re much less controversial or important in the legislation. The discovering for overruled cases is fascinating—circumstances which have been overruled have unusually great significance within the variety of citations they receive and their authority rating.
This superficially anomalous finding presumably reflects reverse causation. They aren’t significant as a result of they were overruled; they were overruled because they had been vital (and undesirable to a later Court). The Court apparently is not going to overrule an strange error of precedent, only a main one.
While there may be a great deal of commonality in quotation effects among the many Justices of this period, some differences are obvious. The Warren Court Justices were not particularly important of their results on the quotation network. A few Justices stand out for unusually important effects, including Justice Scalia from the modern era.