Finally got internet in the new house. Can't complain too much....the guy finished running the wire to our house even though a thunderstorm started. Clearly that man was getting paid by the job, not the hour.
Anyway, had an interesting chat with my father (a lawyer) after our closing on Thursday about the Supreme Court ruling on health care. He mentioned that a coworker was griping that the Supreme Court meant nothing any more because they only voted on party lines. My father, being the good data accuracy man that he is, quickly dissented.
He looked it up, and asserted that nearly half of the decisions last year were unanimous. For this year, 7-2 votes were the least common (8%), then 8-1 (11%), 6-3 (17%) and then 5-4 (20%). So overall, they agree nearly as much as they disagree, and they are only completely divided on about 1 in 5 cases. Kennedy and Roberts voted with the majority over 90% of the time. Ginsburg was the least likely to vote in the majority. Lots of interesting stats to be run on this, another good breakdown of some of the data is here.
It seems the perception that every vote is political is heavily skewed by the very few court cases most of us hear about every year. I would wager even highly political citizens probably couldn't rattle off more than a handful. When you break down the 5-4 decisions exclusively, about 2/3rds of them vote down ideological lines.....which totals to about 10 cases for 2011.
This kind of skewing of perception is common when a few high profile events dramatically overshadow regular operations. Thanks Dad, for pointing that out.