We have been engaged in a long-term study of judicial voting patterns, and we recently published an oped in the Los Angeles Times, in which we gave “awards” to Supreme Court justices, based on a statistical study of their votes. The Judicial Neutrality Award went to Justice Anthony Kennedy. The Judicial Restraint award went to Justice Stephen Breyer. The less coveted Partisan Voting Award went to Justice Clarence Thomas. Justice Antonin Scalia received the Judicial Activism Award.
In various circles, our oped seems to have caused a bit of a stir – especially, we suspect, because Thomas emerges as the most partisan justice, and Scalia as the most activist. (But we did not spare liberal members of the Court; Justice John Paul Stevens was a close second for partisanship.) Our goals here are to offer a more detailed explanation of our method, to provide some general remarks on partisanship and activism on the Supreme Court, and to respond to some criticisms.