For the past few weeks, we’ve been reviewing the oral argument questioning of individual Justices, attempting to answer this question: if the Court as a whole is likely to more heavily question the party who will lose the case, what about Justices planning to dissent from that result? This week, we’re looking at Justice Karmeier’s recent history.
Although Justice Karmeier is usually not an especially active questioner at oral argument, we see the expected patters when he joins the majority. In affirmances, he averages 1.65 questions to appellants and 1.08 to appellees. In reversals, he averages 1.52 questions to appellees, 1.19 to appellants. But when Justice Karmeier dissents from the majority, that result is flipped – he more heavily questions the party he believes should lose, not the party the majority believes should lose. When the majority affirms a decision he believes should be reversed, Justice Karmeier averages 0.93 questions to appellees and 0.67 to appellants. When the majority reverses but he wants to affirm, he averages 2.38 questions to appellants and only 0.5 to appellees.
As with most Justices, there are many fewer data points with mixed results (where either the majority or the dissenting Justice wants to affirm in part and reverse in part). Where Justice Karmeier joins the majority in a mixed result, he averages 1.16 questions to appellants and 1.07 to appellees. In the very few cases where the majority reversed but Justice Karmeier preferred to affirm in part, he averaged 1 question to appellees and none to appellants. Where the majority rendered a split decision but Justice Karmeier wanted to affirm, he averaged 12 questions to appellants and only 2 to appellees.
Tomorrow, we’ll take a close look at the data for Justice Karmeier’s arguments in criminal cases.