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NCJ Number: 92544 Find in a Library
Title: Distributive Justice - Majority Opinion Assignments in the Burger Court
Journal: Judicature  Volume:67  Issue:6  Dated:(December-January 1984)  Pages:299-304
Author(s): H J Spaeth
Date Published: 1984
Page Count: 6
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Although U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Burger has been widely criticized for his assignment practices in opinion writing, an examination of his record reveals equality unmatched by any of his predecessors.
Abstract: An examination of assigned opinions in each of the 12 terms from 1969 through 1980 reveals a remarkably equal distribution of assigned opinions in each of the terms. Treating the terms as a whole, each justice wrote an average of 14.21 opinions per term with a standard deviation of only 1.50. This remarkable record of distributive equality becomes even more impressive when compared with the records of previous chief justices. It is possible, however, to distribute opinions equally while assigning the 'important' cases preferentially. An analysis of assignments does indicate that Burger prefers that the 'liberal' justices not write the opinion in the Court's important cases; however, all chief justices have pursued the policy of preference for ideologically compatible assignees. Using the coefficient of relative variation (CRV), which standardizes a series of standard deviations based on means of varying size, Burger's overall CRV of .47 in the important cases compares favorably with those of Stone, Vinson, and Warren (.40, .55, and .44 respectively) and is about half those of Taft and Hughes. Tabular data and 39 footnotes are provided.
Index Term(s): US Supreme Court decisions
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