Today, we begin our analysis of one of the Court’s most common areas on concern – cases involving governmental entities and administrative law.  As usual, we’ll begin with the first eight years – 1990-1997.

Between 1990 and 1997, the Court decided forty-eight cases which involved governmental entities and officers and administrative law: nine in 1990, two in 1991, eleven in 1992, four in 1993, ten in 1994, three in 1995, four in 1996 and five in 1997.

In Table 1190, we report the caseload, divided between government and non-government parties.  Note that in this data, we define “government” to include a private party who is defending governmental conduct or actions – for example, if a private entity was suing on a claim whose validity depended on whether an action of the Illinois Commerce Commission was within its authority, that entity would be classed as “government” here.

For the entire eight years, the Court decided sixteen cases won below by the defender of government authority and thirty-one won by the challenger to the government.  In 1990, the Court decided six government wins from the Appellate Court and only three challenger wins.  In 1991, the cases were equally divided – one government winner, one challenger winner.  In 1992, the Court decided only two cases won by the government defender and eight won below by the challenger.  In 1993, all four government-admin cases were won below by the party challenging the government.  In 1994, ten cases were divided nearly evenly – six government wins, four challenger wins.  From 1995 to 1997, the Court decided only one case won by the government power defender below – in 1995.  It decided two challenger wins in 1995, four in 1996 and five in 1997.

Below, we look at the data for challengers to government action who won below.  During these first eight years, most of the challengers lost – overall, only eight wins for challengers coming in on a victory as opposed to twenty-six losses.  From 1994 to 1997, challengers who won below lost thirteen times at the Supreme Court, winning only twice.

“Government” parties who won below – governmental officers and agents and private litigants relying on government actions – had an easier time, winning seven and losing six between 1990 and 1997.

Next, we merge this data to determine how challengers to government actions have fared overall, regardless of who won below.  The short answer: not well.  Between 1990 and 1997, challengers won twelve cases while losing thirty-three.

Next, we divide the docket up by what the primary issues were in the Court’s government and administrative law cases: (1) cases about the powers and actions of government officials and governmental entities (i.e., “what the government did”); (2) cases about government/administrative procedure (i.e., “how the government did it”); and (3) private parties’ rights against the government.

Between 1990 and 1997, the Court decided twenty-five cases involving the powers and actions of government officials and entities, fifteen cases involving issues of government procedure, and eight involving private actors’ rights against the government.

Finally, we turn to the individual Justices’ votes.  Justices Miller and Bilandic cast twelve votes each for challengers.  Justices Freeman and Harrison cast eleven votes each.  Justice Heiple cast ten votes for challengers.  Justices Clark and Nickels were next with seven votes apiece for challengers.

Justice Miller also led in total votes for government actors with thirty-five.  Justice Freeman cast thirty votes.  Justices Heiple (twenty-eight votes), Bilandic (twenty-six votes) and McMorrow (twenty votes) were next.  Justice Nickels cast nineteen votes for government actors, Justices Clark and Moran cast fifteen votes and Justice Harrison cast thirteen votes.

Join us back here next time as we examine the Court’s government and administrative law cases from 1998 to 2005.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Christina Rutz (no changes).