by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
[The] Supreme Court is turning its blockbuster docket of cases into a cliffhanger, as it’s been slow to release decisions this year and will likely cram the major cases into June, and some say Justice Neil Gorsuch might be part of the reason why.
When the justices meet for their public nonargument session … fresh from a two-week break, they’ll be returning to the court having decided 23 cases — the fewest cases decided by this point in the term since 1900, according to Empirical SCOTUS.
Adam Feldman, who is behind Empirical SCOTUS, attributes the slow pace in part to the acclimation of Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, who was sworn in as the newest justice last year, and a certain level of disagreement among the justices.
This term, Feldman found, there have been seven five-vote majorities in the first 23 signed decisions, the most five-vote majorities the Roberts Court has issued at this point in the term.
Dan Epps, an associate law professor at Washington University School of Law and co-host of the Supreme Court podcast “First Mondays,” agreed that Gorsuch’s presence on the bench could be playing a role in the court’s pace of releasing opinions.
“It does seem like it’s starting to become clear that Justice Gorsuch’s penchant to write is partly probably explaining part of it,” he said. “I find it hard to believe it’s explaining all of it, because he’s only one person, but we are starting to see lots and lots of separate opinions by him.”