Yesterday, we began our review of the Court’s experience with recusals in criminal cases. Today, we conclude our review with a look at the most recent years.
First, let’s look at the importance of recusals in criminal cases for the years 2006 through 2011 – how often did recusals end up with the prevailing party having only four votes – the Constitutional minimum? In 2006, the prevailing party had six votes in six criminal recusal cases. Twice, the winner had five votes, and three times, four votes. In 2007, recusals had little impact – all three times, the winner had six votes. There were no recusals in criminal cases in 2008. In 2009, the winning party had six votes in the only criminal recusal. In 2010, the winning party had six votes three times, and four votes once. Finally, in 2011, the prevailing party had six votes three times.
Recusals in criminal cases have been extremely rare in recent years. In 2012, there was only one – Justice Thomas in one case. In 2013, Justice Burke recused once and Justice Theis once. There have been no recusals at all in criminal cases since 2013.
In 2012, the prevailing party in the single recusal case had six votes. In 2013, the prevailing party had six votes in both criminal recusal cases.
Join us back here next Tuesday as we turn to a new topic – the Court’s experience with death penalty cases.