Because of the structure of the Supreme Court, the majority of remaining decisions will be authored by conservatives. This prediction is derived from the fact that, first of all, conservative voting judges outnumber liberals 5 to 4; but also it relates to the structure by which the court orders itself: the court divides its terms into seven segments called sittings, and every justice typically writes one majority opinion per sitting. If we pay attention, then, to who has decided what, we can get a sense of who will be left to decide what’s left.
The liberal group, which includes Justices Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and Stephen Breyer, has made 30 majority opinions; the conservative group, which includes Chief Justice John Roberts Jr., Justice Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito Jr. and Thomas, has made 20.
What this means is that we should expect Justice Anthony M. Kennedy to write an opinion from the sitting that has one outstanding decision left, Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, which might decide whether race can be considered in determining college admission – affirmative action.
The Washington Post reported Doug Kendall, of the liberal Constitutional Accountability Center, as saying that “working through these statistics sitting-by-sitting, Justice Kennedy and the Court’s conservatives stand ready to author some of the most important rulings of the Term.”
For instance, of the February sitting, one of the most important cases decides whether section 5 for the Voting Rights Act passes constitution muster. Only Roberts and Scalia remain to write an opinion of that matter, and Roberts has already voiced a criticism of section 5.
Or course these designations of conservative and liberal are not fatal; one can vote against what his party might predict him to vote. Roberts voted with liberals to allow the Affordable Care Act to pass into law, and Kennedy wrote the court’s choice to support gay rights recently.