For the past two weeks, we’ve been reviewing Justice Thomas’ question patterns in oral arguments since 2008, and whether it’s possible to infer his likely vote and whether he’s writing an opinion. This week, we turn to Chief Justice Karmeier’s patterns in civil cases.
Chief Justice Karmeier has voted with the majority in 95 cases since 2008 for which the oral argument video is posted on the Court’s website. He wrote the majority opinion in 18 of those cases, and wrote special concurrences in two. Overall, he asks slightly more questions to the appellants, the losing parties: 1.62 to appellants, 1.19 to appellees. Writing the majority opinion has a substantial effect. For appellants, he averages 3.11 questions, and he averages 3.06 questions to appellees. When he’s not writing but votes with the majority in affirmances, he averages 1.15 questions to appellants, but only 0.73 per argument to appellees.
Chief Justice Karmeier has voted with the majority in 165 reversals in civil cases since 2008. Overall, he averages slightly more questions to the losing party in such cases – 1.3 to appellants, 1.44 to appellees. Once again, writing the majority opinion has a substantial impact. When he’s writing the majority, the Chief Justice averages 2.93 questions to appellants and 2.85 to appellees. When Chief Justice Karmeier isn’t writing but votes with the majority in a reversal, he averages only 0.99 questions to appellants, but 1.15 to appellees.
Between 2008 and 2016, the Chief Justice was in the minority in nine affirmances and seven reversals in civil cases. When in the minority of an affirmance, he averaged 0.89 questions to appellants, 0.56 to appellees. Writing a dissent has only a minimal effect. When the Chief Justice wrote a dissent, he averaged one question to appellants and 0.83 to appellees. When in the minority of a reversal, Chief Justice Karmeier averaged 1.43 questions to appellants and only 0.14 to appellees. On the two occasions when he dissented from a reversal, he asked no questions at all.
Join us back here tomorrow as we analyze Chief Justice Karmeier’s patterns in criminal cases.