BRIEFLY, IN TEN THOUSAND WORDS OR LESS...
The Trend toward Yada Yada in Supreme Court Decisions
Acme Klein Bottle, Oakland, CA wordcountATkleinbottledottcom
Oakland Tech, Oakland, CA zoeystollATgmaildottcom
Has the US Supreme Court grown lazy? For the past 20 years, they've accepted fewer and fewer cases for review. During the 2008 open-season, only 70 cases were argued - a quarter of the yearly docket during the 1960's.
Or has the Supreme Court become more industrious and productive? Since 1970, opinions have grown in length - in 2008 the average opinion exceeded 10,000 words, several times that of the 1960's.
To better identify trends in legal writing, we've analyzed 220 years of Supreme Court opinions, counting words written in each decision, using standard statistical methods. We've also investigated the relationship between length of judicial opinions and the number of cases accepted for review.
This study examines the internal processes of courts and judicial writing, and opens questions on the effects of word processing, internet access, law clerks, collaboration, and back-office collegiality.
Does mo' words mean mo' better? Or are sentences more summative when squeezed from a quill? Come to Monday's lunch and analyze the words of the highest court in the land.