With the election of Justice Lloyd Karmeier in 2004, the Court shifted from a 5-2 to a 4-3 majority for Justices elected as Democrats. In the five years following that shift, Justices Garman and Fitzgerald were the most frequent writers for the Court, followed by Justice Freeman. Justice Garman wrote for the majority somewhat more often during this period than her Republican colleagues, Justice Karmeier and Chief Justice Thomas. Because of the press of administrative duties, the incumbent Chief Justice tends to write somewhat fewer opinions than he or she ordinarily would.
As we saw with the overall data, the Court’s civil opinions were slightly longer during this second five-year period. Measured over the entire five year period, Justice Garman tended to write slightly longer majority opinions than her colleagues, although Justice Thomas’ floating three-year average for the 2007-2009 period was the highest on the Court by the end of this period.
Next week, we’ll conclude our look at the 2005-2009 period with a review of the Justices’ concurrences and dissents.