This time, we’re turning our attention to a new area of the Court’s civil docket – cases involving the conduct, authority and procedures of government agencies and officers.  For our purposes in this and the three posts following, we’re defining “government” parties as anyone whose claim or defense is based upon the powers or conduct of government entities – for example, if a private entity was suing based on a claim whose validity depended on whether an action of the Los Angeles City Council was within its authority, that entity would be classed as “government” here.

Between 1990 and 1997, the Supreme Court decided sixty-nine cases involving government and administrative law – eight in 1990, nine in 1991, eleven in 1992, six in 1993, eight in 1994, and nine per year in 1995, 1996 and 1997.

Most of the Court’s cases were won by the challenger at the Court of Appeal: forty-one challengers’ wins to twenty-seven cases won by the defender of government actions.

Challengers of government actions who had won at the Court of Appeal had a very rough time at the Supreme Court between 1990 and 1997: nine wins and thirty-two losses.

Governmental parties and defenders of government action lost most of the time too, suggesting that during these years, the Court was generally taking these cases to reverse.  Defenders won eight and lost nineteen.

Combining the two tables so as to remove the issue of who won below, we find that challengers to government action won twenty-eight cases while losing forty.

What kinds of issues was the Court dealing with?  The Court decided thirty-five cases involving the powers and actions of government entities, twenty involving private individuals’ rights against government entities or officials and fourteen cases involving government entities’ procedure.

Justice Mosk cast the highest number of votes for challengers to government action and authority at thirty-one.  Justice Kennard was next with twenty-nine votes.  Chief Justice Lucas cast twenty-seven votes, Justice Baxter had twenty-five, Justice Arabian had twenty-three votes, and Chief Justice George and Justice Panelli had twenty each.  Justices Werdegar and Broussard cast nine votes for challengers, Justice Brown had four, Justices Chin and Eagleson had three each, and Justice Kaufman had one.

Justice Kennard cast thirty-nine votes between 1990 and 1997 against challengers to government action and authority.  Justice Mosk had thirty-six votes, Justice Baxter thirty-four and Chief Justice George cast thirty-three votes.  Two Justices were in the twenties: Chief Justice Lucas with twenty-eight votes and Justice Arabian with twenty-seven.  Justice Werdegar cast nineteen votes against challengers, Justice Panelli had seventeen, Justice Chin had eleven, Justice Brown cast seven, Justice Broussard six and Justice Eagleson five.

Join us next time as we turn to the years 1998 through 2005.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Adrian Clark (no changes).