clarence thomas' dialect

Dave Wilton dave at WILTON.NET
Wed Feb 27 07:52:15 UTC 2008

That's not what a "concurrence" is. When you simply agree with what another
justice wrote, then you "join" in the opinion. These are not counted in the
figures, which count who actually wrote the opinion. Justices can "join" in
majority opinions, concurrences, and dissents.

A "concurrence" is when the justice agrees with the outcome decided by the
majority (decision in favor of either the petitioner or respondent), but for
different reasons and therefore writes a separate opinion. A "dissent" is
when the justice disagrees with the outcome.

I've looked at the lists on the Cornell Law School web site in more detail
and figured out the annual averages for each justice. The web site doesn't
list opinions ordered by who wrote them from before 1992, but this shouldn't
affect the averages.

The king of opinions is Stevens. He averages about 31 a year--overwhelmingly
dissents. Scalia is next with 27. Alito wrote 26 in his first year on the
court. Thomas comes in fourth with 23. Breyer has 21. Souter 20. Kennedy and
Ginsburg about 19 each. Roberts only does about 15 (presumably his
administrative duties as chief preclude him from taking more; either that or
it's due to the law of small numbers as has only been around for two years).

Now some opinions do tend to be shorter than others. These are usually when
the justice "concurs/dissents in part." This is when the justice mostly
agrees with one side or the other, but quibbles with main opinion/dissent on
one or more points. Thomas averages about 1.5 of these a year, which is
about the same as the other justices (except Kennedy and Ginsburg, who do
this rarely).

All this does not say that Thomas is a good justice. It just says that the
claim that he does not write his share of opinions is simply not true. He
actually writes more than most, but not all that much more.

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of
Joel S. Berson
Sent: Tuesday, February 26, 2008 4:48 PM
Subject: Re: clarence thomas' dialect

How many of Thomas's "recent opinions" are "I concur with Scalia"?


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