SCOTUSblog released its annual Stat Pack for the October Term 2018 last week—an invaluable resource for the Supreme Court community. You can access the Stat Pack in full, here. SCOTUSblog’s Adam Feldman provided such a well written summary that I want to quote entirely from his piece here. Please read the original in full: Adam Feldman, Final Stat Pack for October Term 2018, SCOTUSblog (Jun. 28, 2019, 5:59 PM), https://www.scotusblog.com/2019/06/final-stat-pack-for-october-term-2018/.
Here are Adam’s top takeaways from OT18:
Sharing the Workload
Chief Justice John Roberts wrote majority opinions in two of the most anticipated decisions of the term, Department of Commerce v. New York and Rucho v. Common Cause, bringing his total majority-opinion authorship count to seven. Other justices wrote from six to eight majority opinions each. The Justice who wrote the most total opinions this term was Justice Clarence Thomas with 28, including eight majority opinions, 14 concurrences and six dissents.
Meeting of the Minds
Justice Kavanaugh had the highest frequency in the majority of the Justices, at 91%. Roberts was second highest at 85%. Kavanaugh and Roberts also shared the highest agreement level for any justice pairing this term, at 94%. The second-highest agreement level was between Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor, who agreed in 93% of their votes.
Looking at the macro level, the Justices voted unanimously in 28 cases this term, which equates to approximately 39% of the time. This is on the low end for a term since Roberts took over as chief and almost 30% lower than the highest percentage of unanimity for a term since 2005, which was 66% in 2013.
Putting in Work
Justice Gorsuch wrote 337 total opinion pages (including majority opinions, concurrences and dissents), which was just higher than Alito’s 324 pages. Kavanaugh wrote the second fewest total opinion pages, at 169. Ginsburg was the only justice to write fewer, with 131 (Ginsburg also had the fewest majority opinion assignments this term, with six.).
When we examine the Supreme Court’s treatment of cases from lower courts, decisions from cases that came from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit stand out. Out of 14 cases the court voted on that came from the Ninth Circuit, the court reversed 12 and only affirmed two, for an 86% reversal rate. The reversal rate was higher for only one circuit, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, at 100%, but the Court only decided a single case previously heard by the Seventh Circuit.
As detailed in the Stat Pack itself but not in Adam’s summary, the Court issued opinions in 72 cases this term. Eighty-nine percent arose from paid (booklet format) petitions while 11% originated from in forma pauperis cases. Eighty-two percent of all cases were appealed through the Federal Courts of Appeals while 15% came from the state court system (the remaining 3% came from three-judge Federal District Court panels. Seventy-eight percent of appeals were civil, 17% were criminal, and the remaining 6% derived from habeas proceedings.