For the past two weeks, we’ve been assessing the changing patterns, year by year, in which Justices most frequently speak for the Court in majority opinions on both the civil and criminal sides of the docket. Today, we address the civil docket between 2010 and 2015.
In Table 372 below, we report the total majority opinions authored by each Justice in non-unanimous civil cases. For the most part, majorities have been fairly evenly distributed in non-unanimous decisions. For example, in 2010, Justice Thomas wrote three majority opinions, but Justices Burke and Garman wrote two each, and Chief Justice Fitzgerald and Justice Karmeier wrote one apiece. In 2011, Justices Burke and Garman led the Court with three apiece, and Justices Freeman, Thomas and Theis wrote one each. The following year, the non-unanimous majorities were a bit more spread out, as Justice Freeman wrote five, Justice Karmeier four, Justice Burke three, and Chief Justice Kilbride and Justices Garman and Theis wrote two each. For 2013, Justices Thomas, Karmeier and Burke wrote three non-unanimous majorities apiece in civil cases. Chief Justice Kilbride and Justice Garman wrote two each, and Justice Theis wrote one. In 2014, non-unanimous civil decisions were quite rare; Justices Burke and Theis led with two apiece, and Justices Freeman and Thomas wrote one each. Finally, in 2015, Justice Freeman led with three non-unanimous majorities, Justices Karmeier and Theis wrote two each, and Justices Burke and Thomas wrote one apiece.
We report the same data in Table 373 below calculated as a percentage of the total non-unanimous civil decisions. We see that Justice Thomas was responsible for one-third of the non-unanimous civil majorities in 2010, and Justices Burke and Garman wrote 22.22% each. In 2011, Justices Burke and Garman each wrote one-third of the majority decisions. Justices Freeman, Thomas and Theis wrote 11.11% apiece. In 2012, Justice Freeman led with 27.78% of the non-unanimous civil majorities. Justice Karmeier wrote 22.22% and Justice Burke wrote 16.67%. For 2013, Justices Thomas, Karmeier and Burke were each responsible for 21.43% of the Court’s non-unanimous civil majority opinions. For 2014, Justices Burke and Theis each wrote one-third of the non-unanimous civil majority opinions, and Justices Freeman and Thomas split the rest. Last year, Justice Freeman wrote one-third of the decisions, Justices Karmeier and Theis wrote 22.22% apiece, and Justices Burke and Thomas wrote 11.11% each.
In the next Table, we report the number of majority opinions written by each Justice in civil cases decided unanimously for the same years. These cases were somewhat more spread out than non-unanimous majorities were. In 2010, Justice Karmeier led with seven majority opinions. Chief Justice Fitzgerald and Justice Burke wrote four apiece. Justice Freeman wrote three, and Justices Kilbride and Thomas wrote two each. For 2011, Justice Thomas led with six majority opinions. Justices Freeman and Theis were next with five apiece. Justices Burke and Karmeier wrote four majority opinions apiece. Justice Garman wrote three and Chief Justice Kilbride wrote two. The next year, Justice Thomas led with six majority opinions. Justices Garman and Burke were second with four majorities apiece. Chief Justice Kilbride and Justices Freeman and Burke wrote two each, and Justice Karmeier wrote one. For 2013, the majorities were evenly distributed, with Justices Burke, Karmeier and Theis writing four apiece, Justices Thomas and Garman three each, and Justice Freeman two. The next year, Justices Thomas and Burke led the Court with four majorities apiece. Justices Kilbride, Karmeier and Theis each wrote three, Justice Freeman wrote two, and Chief Justice Garman wrote one. Finally, in 2015, Justice Karmeier led the Court with seven majority opinions in unanimous civil cases. Justice Thomas was second with six, and Justices Burke, Kilbride and Theis each had five. Justice Freeman wrote four and Chief Justice Garman wrote three.
Finally, we report the unanimous decisions as a share of the whole. For 2010, Justice Karmeier wrote 30.43% of the majority opinions in unanimously decided civil cases. Chief Justice Fitzgerald and Justice Burke wrote 17.39% each, and Justice Freeman wrote 13.04%. For 2011, Justice Thomas wrote 20.69%. Justices Freeman and Theis wrote 17.24% apiece, and Justices Burke and Karmeier wrote 13.79% each. In 2012, Justice Thomas led with 28.57% of the unanimous civil majorities. Justices Theis and Garman were next with 19.05% each, and Chief Justice Kilbride and Justices Burke and Freeman wrote 9.5% apiece. For 2013, Justices Karmeier, Theis and Burke were each responsible for 20% of the Court’s unanimous civil decisions. Chief Justice Garman and Justice Thomas wrote 15% each. The next year, Justices Burke and Thomas led with 20%. Justices Kilbride, Karmeier and Theis were next, each writing 15% of the Court’s unanimous civil majorities. Last year, Justice Karmeier led with 20% of the Court’s majority opinions in civil cases. Justice Thomas was next with 17.14%, followed by Justices Burke, Kilbride and Theis, each of whom wrote 14.29% of the cases.
Join us back here tomorrow, as we turn our attention to the Court’s most frequent writers on the criminal side of the docket for the past six years.