Last week, we reviewed the Court’s history since 1990 with civil cases involving governmental parties and administrative law, and criminal cases involving the law of sentencing. This week, we’re digging deeper, looking at three questions: (1) does the Court tend to take more cases in each area won by one side or the other below; (2) how does the Court’s reversal rate vary, based upon which side won below; and (3) overall, how often has the Court reversed decisions in each area of law, either in whole or in part? We begin with cases involving government and administrative law (note that we’re defining “governmental parties” broadly here – where a private public-interest group sued another private entity in order to vindicate the government’s administrative regulations, we count that as a “government entity” case. We’ll carve out litigation by public interest groups in a future post.)
Since 1990, the Court has taken significantly more cases won by governmental parties below than government losses – 56.25% of its 176 government and administrative law cases were won by the governmental party below. However, the reversal rate is almost identical – 56.58% of governmental party losses have been reversed, and 54.55% of governmental party wins have been overturned.
First, we review the year by year total where wins by the parties challenging government or administrative regulations were affirmed. The Court had two in 1990, two in 1992, one in 1994, 3 in 1999, one in 2000, three in 2002, one in 2004, three in 2005, one in 2007, one in 2009, three in 2011, one in 2013, one in 2014, three per year in 2015 and 2016, and four in 2017.
As for cases won by the challenger below but reversed by the Supreme Court: the Court had three in 1990, five in 1992, four in 1994, one in 1996, two per year in 1998, 1999 and 200, three in 2001, two in 2002, four in 2003, one a year in 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2012, five in 2014, one in 2015 and two in 2016.
In Table 762, we report the numbers for cases where governmental parties and administrative regulations’ wins below were affirmed. The Court had one case in 1992, one in 1993, four in 1994, three in 1997, one per year in 2000 and 2001, two in 2002, five in 2003, four in 2004, one in 2005, three in 2006, two in 2007, one in 2009, two in 2011, two in 2013 and four per year in 2015, 2016 and 2017.
As for governmental party wins below which were reversed by the Court: four in 1990, two in 1991, two in 1992, three in 1993, one in 1994, three in 1995, three in 1996, two in 1997, three in 1998, two each year from 2001 through 2005, five in 2006, two in 2009, one in 2010, two in 2011, four in 2012, three in 2013, one in 2014, two in 2016 and one in 2017.
Overall, the Court has reversed in whole or in part in 56.25% of its government and administrative law cases since 1990. Between 1990 and 1995, the Court reversed in 69.23% of these cases. From 1996 to 2000, the Court reversed two-thirds of the time. Between 2001 and 2005, the Court reversed only 47.5% of its government and administrative law cases. Between 2006 and 2010, despite the change in the Court’s membership, the reversal rate was back up – to 65%. Since 2011, the Court has shifted again, reversing in only 45.28% of its fifty-three cases.
Join us back here tomorrow for a close look at the Court’s history with criminal sentencing cases.