Today on SCOTUSblog, Amy Howe predicted that Justice Alito will author Harris v. Quinn. As Howe put it:
[O]ur predictions are based on the idea that the Justices try to even out the workload not just over the course of the Term, but also from month to month. So the fact that Harris v. Quinn is the only decision left from January and Alito hasn’t written from January yet strongly suggests that he is writing in Harris.
Given Alito’s authorship of Knox v. SEIU, this would likely not be good news for fair share agreements in the public sector. But a reader writes in to OnLabor to report some interesting statistics. This reader:
[L]looked on the Scotusblog statistics archive to see how common it is for a Justice to not write an opinion for a given month. Recently it has happened once or twice per term:
- In 2012-13, it happened 1 month out of 7. Scalia didn’t write in January.
- In 2011-13, it happened 2 months out of 4. Sotomayor didn’t write in October, Thomas didn’t write in December. I didn’t count Feb-April b/c there were fewer than 9 opinions that month.
- In 2010-11, it happened 2 months out of 6. Alito and Sotomayor didn’t write in January, Breyer didn’t write in January, I didn’t count April b/c fewer than 9 opinions.
- In 2009-10, it happened 2 months out of 6. Stevens didn’t write in November, Kennedy didn’t write in December, I didn’t count April.
The reader thus concludes that “[i]f Alito writes Harris, then there won’t be any months this term in which a Justice didn’t write an opinion, except those months where there are fewer than 9 cases,” and that that would be somewhat unusual.
We will know Monday.