Earlier this month, I made a presentation with Justice Willett about recent voting trends on the Texas Supreme Court — with a few extra slides included about the state of amicus practice in the Court.
This was in some sense an update of the talk we made to the Austin Bar appellate section in 2010. Then, we had focused on the unique 2005-2009 Terms of the Court, during which there was no turnover of Justices. The new presentation looks at the voting patterns as the Court’s membership has changed from 2010 to the present — including some of the diagrams of voting patterns that were so popular before. (( If anyone is interested in diving into that raw data, I’d be happy to share the scripts that generated slides 34 and 35. ))
This time around, I also included two new kinds of graphs: (1) a look at how often each Justice tends to join in concurrences or dissents; and (2) a time-series showing how each Justice’s overall rate of agreement with the judgment moves year to year, and relative to similar peers.
The last section of the talk discussed amicus practice. The slides that seemed to make the biggest impression were the last handful, which show the correlation (( Update: I’ve been asked if it’s correlation or causation. These slides are definitely correlation. They do not definitively answer whether amicus groups happen to like the same sorts of cases that interest the Justices, or whether the amicus briefs inform the Justices’ views of the cases. That, however, is a subject that came up in last week’s “Evening with the Supreme Court” event, which I’ll write more about soon. )) between response-request rates, briefing-request rates, and grant rates when at least one amicus brief is in the file.