Yesterday, we looked at the small number of certified appeals the Court has decided since the late 1990s. Since 1997, the Court has heard only eight certified question appeals from the Seventh Circuit – nearly all of them originating in the District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. Today, we look at a related question. One would expect that cases which the Seventh Circuit certified to the Supreme Court would have consider disagreement. So how evenly divided do certified question appeals tend to be?
The certified question appeals were not significantly more divided than the rest of the Court’s docket. Three of eight cases certified to the Supreme Court resulted in unanimous decisions. One had a single dissenter. One quarter of the Court’s certified question caseload ended in two-dissenter decisions, and another quarter ended in 4-3 decisions.
Four of the Court’s eight certified question appeals involved government entities as parties – a bigger fraction than the Court’s overall caseload. Two more involved questions of public law: one involving the question of whether the Personnel Code created an implied cause of action, and another that turned on the scope of the Illinois Commerce Commission’s jurisdiction. The remaining two cases involved widely applicable questions of tort law: the scope of the economic loss rule and the applicable statute of limitations for property damage in strict liability actions.
Join us back here next Tuesday as we turn our attention to a new area of the Court’s decision making.