Are there a lot of 5/4 votes in the court?

The Supreme Court is so important to our democracy but it is kind of failing us. And I’m not specifically writing this because of the recent opinions that have been in the news. It was something Dan Carlin said in his latest podcast (which is a show you totally should be listening to regularly). He was talking about the fact that it seemed like many of the recent Supreme Court decisions were 5-4.

And he is kind of right. There are a lot of ‘split’ decisions. These are votes that are 5/4 or 5/3. All others (including 6/2 and 6/3) I considered ‘majority’ decisions. I did a quick count at a website that lists the votes and found that for 2010 about 25% of the votes were split. For 2011 it was a little lower but overall there are a lot of decisions that are 5/4. There was no 2012 data. Now I didn’t consider the content of the cases. I wonder if there were even more splits on the obviously partison issues like guns, right to choose, rulings on things like the healthcare law, etc. I’ll leave that for you to look into if you’re interested.

But the main argument here is that the court is supposivly comprised of the greatest constitutional scholars and they are supposed to be blind to anything other than the law and the constitution. How is it that these 9 people are not in agreement almost all the time? I think instead of 75%-80% of the time their percentage should be way more like 90% right?

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