This week, we’re tracking the Supreme Court’s unanimity rate in civil cases, matched against the evolving party alignment of the Justices. Last time, we reviewed the data for the 1990s. Today, we’re reviewing the data for the years 2001 through 2010.
With Democrat Thomas Kilbride having replaced James Heiple in the final days of 2000, the Court was at five Democrats and two Republicans from 2001 through the end of 2004. For these four years, the overall unanimity rate was 71.14% – ten points higher than it was in the nineties. The unanimity rate in 2001 was 74.51%. It fell to 66% in 2002, rose to 69.57% in 2003 and rose back to 74.07% in 2004.
The party alignment fell back to four Democrats and three Republicans in the closing days of 2004 as Justice Lloyd Karmeier replaced Justice Philip Rarick. For the five years that followed, the overall unanimity rate increased three points to 74.66%. The reversal rate in 2005 was 81.25%. It fell precipitously in 2006 – all the way to 59.18%. But the rate was back up for the following three years: 80.49% in 2007, 71.43% in 2008 and 82.93% in 2009.
Join us back here next week as we continue our review of the Court’s unanimity rates.