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March 21, 2007

Do the Justices have writer's block? the blue flu? spring (training) fever?

Alitoball Though much has been made about the Supreme Court's small docket this Term, I am now more intrigued by the slow pace of its decision-making.  By the end of March 2005, the Court had produced 37 opinions (including Booker) for OT '04; by the end of March 2006, it had released 43 opinions for OT '05; but so far this term we have gotten only 23 opinion.  Moreover, because of the light (and somewhat uninspired) docket, the slow SCOTUS production cannot really be blamed on having to spend a lot of time gearing up for oral arguments.  And, my own anecdotal impression has been that, even in the few notable cases that have been decided, not all that much notable has been said by the Justices.

So what gives?  Are a few hard cases or a few struggling Justices slowing everything down?  Have the Justices adopted a "blue flu" slow-down in productivity to protest being underpaid?  Has the lecture circuit been just too much fun to give up for the day-to-day drudgery of proofing a draft opinion?

I am not generally opposed to the notion that "less is more" from the Supreme Court.  A 25-page unanimous opinion in Booker likely would have been a lot more helpful to everyone than the 100+ page two-headed monster that the Court produced two years ago.  Still, it is hard not to wonder what exactly is going on these days at One First Street.

Helpfully, a double-secret source from inside the Court sent me a copy of today's page from the new Chief's day-planner.  I have reprinted below excerpts from CJ Roberts' notes on his schedule for today, and now I better understand what's taking so long:

Excerpts from CJ Roberts' day-planner for Wed, Mar. 21:

6:00am: Wake-up; check How Appealing, SCOTUSblog and Althouse
6:30am: Get kids up for school, pack Spiderman and My Little Pony lunch-boxes
7:30am: Arrive at office; check How Appealing
8:30am: Breakfast meeting with Justices to discuss last night's American Idol
10:00am: Hear another friggin' habeas case
11:15am: Call Bud Selig to remind him I am still waiting for my Nationals uniform
11:30am: Check How Appealing, SCOTUSblog and The Volokh Conspiracy
12noon: Lunch with Crawford and Greenhouse and Lithwick
2:00pm: E-mail federal judge listserve with praise for reduction in law review cites
2:30pm: Check How Appealing, SCOTUSblog and Instapundit
3:00pm: Review spring-training stats and strategy for weekend fantasy baseball draft
3:45pm: Snacktime with Justices to discuss what might happen on Lost
4:30pm: Color-code NCAA bracket picks to help figure out who to root for this weekend
5:15pm: Check How Appealing; post comments on SL&P as S.cotus and federalist
5:45pm: Head out to umpire kids' T-ball game

As you can see, this busy schedule does not leave a lot of time for finishing up opinions.

March 21, 2007 at 12:06 PM | Permalink

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Comments

See, that proves it. He doesn't spend enough time on sentencing.

Posted by: S.cotus | Mar 21, 2007 10:16:04 PM

Where's your cite S.cotus?

Posted by: | Mar 21, 2007 11:42:27 PM

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