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Yes. The US Supreme Court has issued many unanimous verdicts during its history; however, this was more common in the past than it is today. The Roberts Court is polarized, with four ultra-conservative justices (Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Scalia, Thomas and Alito), four progressive justices (Justices Stevens, Ginsburg, Breyer, and Sotomayor), and one justice with a mixed voting record (Justice Kennedy).
As the swing vote, Justice Kennedy helps maintain balance on the Court.
As the swing vote, Justice Kennedy helps maintain balance on the Court.
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No. Sometimes verdicts are unanimous, but more often they are split down political and ideological lines. The Supreme Court has become increasingly polarized in the 20th and 2…1st Centuries, making unanimous decisions the exception, rather than the rule. The Supreme Court requires only a simple majority vote to decide a case: If all nine justices are present, five of the nine must agree. The Court must have a quorum of six justices to hear a case.
Yes, quite a few times. One famous instance in which the Supreme Court overruled its prior precedent was Brown v. Board of Education, the case which held that segregated schoo…ls denied African American children equal educational opportunities. In that case, the Court overruled Plessy v. Ferguson, (1896) (espousing the infamous "separate but equal" doctrine), relying heavily on findings from social science. The Supreme Court rarely overrules its own precedent, however, and will often find ways to distinguish a case (explain why that prior case is different from the case at bar and why the outcome here should be different) before it overturns it. When the Supreme court does overturn a case, it will usually do so explicitly and explain the rationale for its departure. The Congressional Research Service published a book on the US Constitution in which there were over 100 cases showing that the Supreme Court had overruled itself.
No. Sometimes verdicts are unanimous, but more often they are split down political and ideological lines. The Supreme Court has become increasingly polarized in the 20th a…nd 21st Centuries, making unanimous decisions the exception, rather than the rule. On the Roberts' Court, many decisions are made by a vote of 5-4, with the conservatives and progressives unable to agree on many issues. Justice Anthony Kennedy, who has a mixed voting record, is typically the swing vote. YES, depending on the term. For the Court terms 2002-2014, Slate's Eric Posner reports that the Supreme Court handed down unanimous decisions in about half the cases they decided, while close 5-4 decisions were about 20% of the decisions. Fragmentation on the Supreme Court (close 5-4 decisions) was higher in the 1980's and before, but since about 1995 the fragmentation has been decreasing.
Until fairly recently, the Supreme Court consisted primarily of white men. Two African-American men have served on the Court: Associate Justice Thurgood Marshall (retired Jun…e 1991, deceased) Associate Justice Clarence Thomas (still seated) We have also had four female Justices on the Court: Associate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor (retired 2006)Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (still seated)Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor (joined court in 2009) Associate Justice Elena Kagan (joined court in 2010) Sonia Sotomayor is Latina.
No. There are two types of votes in the US Supreme Court: When deciding whether to hear a case (grant certiorari), at least four justices must vote in favor. This is called t…he "rule of four." When making the final decision on the outcome of a case, the decision must be agreed upon by a simple majority of the court. If all nine justices hear the case, then five must agree to form a majority opinion.
Yes. Six Supreme Court justices were born outside the United States (or Colonial America, in some cases): James Wilson (1789-1798), Caskardy, Scotland James Ire…dell (1790-1799), Lewes, England William Paterson (1793-1806), County Antrim, Ireland David Brewer (1889-1910) Turkey George Sutherland (1922-1938) Buckingshire, England Felix Frankfurter (1939-1962), Vienna, Austria Of the six, Felix Frankfurter was the most influential. Felix Frankfurter (1882-1965), who was born in Austria and immigrated to America with his parents at the age of 12, graduated from Harvard Law School, and went on to become assistant to Henry Stimson (later Secretary of State under Hoover) as US Attorney for the Southern District of New York. He later followed Stimson to Washington when President Theodore Roosevelt appointed Stimson Secretary of War. Frankfurter was was a staunch supporter of Roosevelt, and worked on the "Bull Moose Campaign" of 1912, in an unsuccessful attempt to return Teddy to the Presidency after he lost the Republican nomination to William Howard Taft. After World War I, Frankfurter returned to Harvard as a Law Professor, where he remained until Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected in 1932. Frankfurter, an ardent supporter of President Roosevelt's New Deal, became a close and trusted advisor to the President. This lead to his nomination to the Supreme Court in 1939 (where he served until 1962). Although ideologically liberal, Frankfurter was the Court's most outspoken proponent of "judicial restraint," the belief that the Court should not interpret the law and Constitution in such as way as to place encumbering limits on the power of the Legislative and Executive branches. Although foreign-born, Frankfurter revered the Constitution and was considered extremely patriotic. More recently, two-term Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, a naturalized citizen and Canadian by birth, was under consideration for nomination to the Supreme Court seat recently vacated by now-retired Justice David Souter, but her foreign birth (despite Canada being a neighboring country) became a major point of contention with political conservatives.
Answer In general, appellate courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, are designed to avoid tie votes. Every appellate court in America, whether it be a state court or a fed…eral court, is made up of an odd number of judges and/or justices. Moreover, before an en banc opinion from any appellate court takes on precedential value, a simple majority of the judges or justices seated on that court must vote for that opinion. Otherwise, the opinion is what is known as a plurality opinion. With regard to the U.S. Supreme Court, plurality opinions are recorded and published so they do become part of jurisprudential history. Moreover, even though they do not technically provide hard precedential value, inferior courts often choose to follow the plurality opinion as if it were binding precedent. Answer Yes. There have been a number of US Supreme Court votes that resulted in a tie due to a justice's voluntary recusal or illness, or a vacancy on the bench. An article published in the March 22, 2005 issue of Journal of Appellate Practice and Process, "Recusals and the 'Problem' of an Equally Divided Supreme Court," cited a 57-Term study of decisions made following voluntary recusal of a justice. Of the 608 cases investigated, 49, or approximately 8.1%, ended in a 4-4 deadlock resolved by "Affirmance by an Equally Divided Court," leaving the decision of the lower appellate court standing without resolving the constitutional conflict. While it is easier to find anecdotal accounts than specific case names, historical records indicate tie votes occur more often than most people realize. For example, during the year that elapsed between Justice Abe Fortas' 1969 resignation and Justice Harry Blackmun's eventual appointment, the remaining eight justices deadlocked on twenty cases, all later reargued and resolved. In 1985, when Justice Lewis F. Powell, Jr., missed 56 oral arguments due to illness, thirteen cases ended in 4-4 votes, defaulting to affirmance in eight cases and reargument of five before the full court. More recently, the Rehnquist Court returned an affirmance by an equally divided court in Borden Ranch Partnership v. US Army Corps of Engineers, 537 US 99 (2002), an important challenge to the Clean Water Act. The Roberts Court achieved the same result in Warner-Lambert v. Kent, 552 US ___ (2008) when Chief Justice Roberts recused himself due to conflict of interest because he owned stock in Warner-Lambert's parent company, Pfizer. The Supreme Court may exercise one of two options when unable to reach a majority opinion: 1) Affirmance by an equally divided court, which allows the decision of the lower court to stand in judgment without resolving the conflict; or 2) Reargument at a later date, preferably before the full court, which allows a final determination. Affirmance, which carries no precedential weight, presents a thorny problem for the legal community in that it may leave Circuit splits (differing decisions between federal appellate courts on substantially similar issues) or important constitutional questions undefined for years. In most instances, these problems are eventually addressed when the Court grants certiorari on a later case that raises comparable questions.
Yes. Justice Samuel Chase was impeached by the House of Representatives in 1804, but was acquitted at his Senate trial in early 1805. Chase is the only US Supreme Court justic…e to have been impeached, but a few have had close calls. For more information, see Related Questions, below.
Decisions are often split down political and ideological lines. The justices of the current US Supreme Court are polarized in their ideologies, with Chief Justice Roberts and …Justices Scalia, Thomas and Alito representing an ultra-conservative bloc in opposition to Justices Stevens, Breyer, Ginsburg and Sotomayor, who represent the progressive bloc. Justice Kennedy's mixed voting record provides a degree of balance to the Court, and ensures not all decisions favor federalism and big business, or undermine civil rights and personal liberties. The ultra-conservative justices were commissioned in an era that began during the Reagan administration, when Republican political views moved to the extreme right. Presidents Reagan and both Presidents Bush attempted to select justices who reflected this ideology and were, for the most part, successful. All of the justices appointed under Republican administrations are still young (relatively speaking) and can be expected to remain on the Court for many more years, depriving the current Democratic President of replacing a conservative justice with a more liberal justice. Because the Republican administrations held sway for many years, the progressive justices tend to be older, and more likely to retire during Obama's tenure. This is unlikely to affect the balance of the Court, but will tend to support the ideological polarization.
William Howard Taft was elected President in 1908, and served a single term in the White House, from 1909-1913. He was later appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, whic…h he presided over from 1921 until 1930. Taft is the only person who was both President and Chief Justice of the United States.
The whole US Supreme Court? No. Supreme Court justices can only be removed from office by the two-step impeachment process, just like the US President and certain other gover…nment officials. Only one justice, Samuel Chase, has ever been impeached. The House of Representatives served Chase with eight articles of impeachment (charges) in 1804 as a political move against the Federalist Party. Chase was acquitted at his Senate trial in 1805 and remained on the Court until his death in 1811. Supreme Court justices can't be impeached - or fired - simply because some people don't like their decisions. They have to do something more objectively wrong (unethical, conflict of interest, illegal, abuse of office, etc.) to be removed from office. For more information, see Related Questions, below.
The US Supreme Court has overturned many of its own past decisions (the list would be too long for this format); however, there were a few instances when a decision was nullif…ied by constitutional amendment. These are the only two ways a Supreme Court decision may be overturned. Only one constitutional amendment was ratified in direct response to a Supreme Court decision: The Eleventh Amendment. The Eleventh Amendment revoked the Supreme Court's original jurisdiction over conflicts between a state and citizens of another state. This change was made in response to the decision in Chisholm v. Georgia, 2 U.S. 419 (1793), in which the Court declared the states lacked sovereign immunity against being sued in equity cases (mostly over land disputes), and made a large award to Chisholm against the state of Georgia. The States rightly assumed this precedent could quickly send them into bankruptcy, and petitioned Congress to amend the Constitution for their protection. The Eleventh Amendment now provides for diversity jurisdiction in the District Court, meaning the lower courts in the state being sued have original jurisdiction over these disputes. Eleventh Amendment "The judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by citizens of another state, or by citizens or subjects of any foreign state."
Yes they will. The Supreme Court ruled more than 30 years ago that the Constitution does not ban less than unanimous verdicts.
A unanimous opinion of the US Supreme Court is an opinion that all justices agree on.
Damned if I know. That's why I asked the question.