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May 5, 2007

Dissecting the SCOTUS docket dilemma

Over at SCOTUSblog, there are great posts from Tom Goldstein and David Stras dissecting the Supreme Court's ever-shrinking docket.  This comment from David's post sums up the central theme: "Tom's calculation of 71 signed opinions [for this current Term] is the lowest output for the Court since 1865.  At a time of extremely large caseloads in the lower courts, recent figures on the Supreme Court's plenary docket are truly astonishing." 

Meanwhile, Orin Kerr here notes that the new Chief Justice is suggesting that on-line resources account for fewer splits for SCOTUS to resolve.  This argument sounds a bit kooky to me, especially since I can name more than a dozen splits on Apprendi-Blakely-Booker issues (some examples here and here and here) that the Supreme Court has refused to take up in the last few years.

Some related posts:

May 5, 2007 at 10:46 AM | Permalink

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This argument sounds a bit kooky to me, especially since I can name more than a dozen splits on Apprendi-Blakely-Booker issues (some examples here and here and here) that the Supreme Court has refused to take up in the last few years.

Might it be that the splits nowadays are more often about minutiae than about broad issues?

Or might it be that each of the three opinions you cite has been so unsettling to the preexisting doctrine that constitutional sentencing law is in a category by itself?

In areas other than sentencing, I see circuit splits fairly often, but a lot of these splits arise in areas where uniformity isn't all that important. Perhaps there are just fewer troublesome splits these days than there used to be.

Posted by: WB | May 7, 2007 9:37:17 AM

Doug,

As you may recall, I've explained why I think the Court isn't taking more sentencing cases here:

http://volokh.com/posts/1165545822.shtml

Orin

Posted by: Orin S. Kerr | May 7, 2007 12:50:38 PM

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