Back in 1923, the Supreme Court had issued 157 rulings by May 1 in a term that started the previous fall.
On the same date a century later, the current justices, facing a firestorm of scrutiny on multiple fronts, have disposed of just 15 cases, fueling speculation about why they are falling behind.
In fact, the court has decided fewer cases at this point of the term — which begins each October and ends in June — than at any time in the last 100 years, according to numbers compiled by Supreme Court stats guru Adam Feldman.
There is one big caveat: The court hears oral arguments in substantially fewer cases now than it did in previous decades. In the 1922-23 term, the court heard 205 cases, noted Lee Epstein, a political scientist at the University of Southern California Gould School of Law. This term it was a mere 59.
Nevertheless, the slow pace at which rulings have been issued this term has started to attract scrutiny from court watchers. [Continue reading…]