While the Supreme Court has appeared deeply divided along ideological lines in recent years, its latest term reveals a strikingly different court, often unanimous and aggressive in reviewing the other branches of government, reports the New York Times in an analysis of the last nine months of the Roberts Court. Some 44% of cases last term were unanimous decisions, which is a normal number, except that it includes several major cases. And an unusual number of cases ruled against the government's position; while solicitors general typically win 60% to 70% of their cases before the Supreme Court, last term they won just 45% (although experts note that results are often ambiguous and hard to measure).
It's a manifestation of John Roberts' work to insulate his court from charges of being political in the wake of the Citizens United ruling, notes the Times. The court unanimously ruled in favor of a "ministerial exception" to anti-discrimination laws, for an Idaho couple who wanted to build on their wetlands property, and against the government being able to put GPS trackers on vehicles without a warrant. "Cases that might have been closely divided and very contentious ended up being unanimous," said a solicitor general from the Bush administration. "It's a tribute to the chief justice, and to the whole court." Click for the whole analysis.