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SCOTUS Statistics

Each year, the Harvard Law Review publishes a series of tables summarizing numerical trends from the Court’s most recent Term. We also translate our Supreme Court Statistics into interactive visualizations, which can be found below.

These visualizations are sourced from The Statistics included in our print issues. The content is also available here on our website as online PDFs. We hope they make the data more accessible and valuable. Nonetheless, to find a more detailed version of The Statistics with extensive explanations of methodology, please see the full PDFs linked above.

Figure I: Voting Alignments

In what percentage of cases does Justice Thomas agree with Justice Sotomayor? Select a Term via the dropdown menu below, and hover over a Justice’s name to see the percentage of that Term’s cases in which they agreed with each of their colleagues. You can also toggle between viewing alignments within all written opinions or only in cases that were not unanimous.

Figure  I(A): Voting Alignments in Full Opinions / Merits Cases

Note: This data is sourced from Table I(B1) of the print version of The Statistics.

Figure I(B): Voting Alignments in Orders Resolving Applications for Emergency Relief

Note: This data is sourced from Table I(B2) of the print version of The Statistics.

Figure II: 5-4 Majorities

This visualization allows you to experiment with the Court’s various five-four majorities in full opinions / merits cases in a given Term.

Detail: Choose a Term from the dropdown menu. Then select a Justice’s initials. Build out your 5-4 majority by selecting a second Justice, and then a third, as each additional row appears. Justices whom you select appear in tan. If your choices force a majority, initials of the Justices that round out that 5-4 bloc will appear in tan and white stripes. If a Justice’s initials appear in gray, it means they did not form a 5-4 majority with your chosen Justices in your chosen Term. Clicking a different Justice’s initials in the first row resets the visual.

For example: In the 2020 Term, Chief Justice Roberts found himself in a 5-4 majority with each of his colleagues, except Justice Thomas. If you select Chief Justice Roberts, and then select Justice Gorsuch, you’ll find that Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Gorsuch aligned in only one 5-4 majority — a bloc also comprised of Justices Alito, Kavanaugh, and Barrett. That majority decided one case, listed in the graphic.

Note: This data is sourced from Table I(E) of the print version of The Statistics. Also, there were no 5-4 decisions in the 2015 Term.

Figure III: Subject Matter

This visualization maps the areas of law the Court considered. While categories are not always mutually exclusive or clear-cut, we do our best to classify what areas of law each case reflects.

Detail: Choose a Term from the dropdown menu, then hover over the blue circles to see how many cases of each subject matter the Court considered. Clicking a given category will show you a range of subcategories. Further clicks will ultimately indicate the number of decisions in that universe that resulted in a constitutional holding, or a victory for the government.

For example: Navigating between the circles will show you that the Court decided two state criminal cases in the 2020 Term — one of which related to the Eighth Amendment’s Prohibition on Cruel and Unusual Punishment. Clicking that circle will reveal that the case resulted in a constitutional holding and a decision for the government. Using the dropdown menu to select 2019, you’ll see that the Court decided seven state criminal cases that Term.

Note: This data is sourced from Table III of the print version of The Statistics.

Figure IV(A): Full Opinions / Merits Cases

This chart ranks Justices on one of a range of metrics over time. Use the dropdown menu to select what metric you’d like to rank. Options include number of opinions written, number of dissenting votes, and percentage of the time each Justice agreed with the disposition of the Term’s cases.

Detail: Justices’ names appear (at the right y-axis) according to their rankings for the 2020 Term. Hovering over a Justice’s name reveals their number or percentage for your chosen metric in each Term they’ve been on the Court, stretching back to 2012.

For example: In the 2020 Term, most Justices joined the Court’s opinion in a majority of cases. Justices Thomas and Sotomayor, the outliers, each joined the Court’s opinion in 48.8% of cases. Each Justice agreed in the disposition of the case in more than 55% of the Term’s decisions. Justice Kavanaugh agreed most frequently — siding with the disposition 95.1% of the time.

Note: This data is sourced from Table I(A) & I(D) of the print version of The Statistics. Because the visualization ranks Justices, it does not represent visually how extreme the distribution might be for any given metric. For that, you’ll have to hover over a year or a Justice’s name and compare the figures that appear.

Figure IV(B): Applications for Emergency Relief

This chart ranks Justices on one of a range of metrics over time. Use the dropdown menu to select what metric you’d like to rank. Options include number of opinions written, number of dissenting votes, and percentage of the time each Justice agreed with the disposition of the Term’s cases.

Detail: Justices’ names appear (at the right y-axis) according to their rankings for the 2020 Term. Because this is a new metric the Review added for the 2020 Term, there is currently only one year’s worth of data. However, as future years’ data is added, one will be able to hover over a Justice’s name to reveal their number or percentage for your chosen metric in each Term they’ve been on the Court, stretching back to 2020.

Note: This data is sourced from Table IV(C) of the print version of The Statistics. Because the visualization ranks Justices, it does not represent visually how extreme the distribution might be for any given metric. For that, you’ll have to hover over a year or a Justice’s name and compare the figures that appear.

Figure V: Disposition of Applications for Emergency Relief

This visualization allows you to explore the Court’s actions on its Emergency Docket. Use the dropdown menu to select what metric you’d like to explore. Options include dispositions, unanimity, writings, and public dissenting votes. You can view each of these metrics as “Totals,” or you can explore more granularly by selecting the “Relief Categories” or “Relief Subcategories” buttons. Each dot represents an application, and if you hover over each dot, it will reveal which application it represents.

Note: This data is sourced from Table IV(A) of the print version of The Statistics. For more details regarding the relevant methodology of this table (what category of applications were included, etc.) please refer to the full version of The Statistics, available here.

If you have ideas for how the online statistics can be improved, please send us a note.