The Volokh Conspiracy

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Supreme Court

Has Justice Barrett Replaced Justice Ginsburg as the Court's Quickest Opinion Writer?

Justice Barrett has produced two majority opinions before most of her colleagues have produced one.


Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was "notorious" for many things, including being one of the fastest opinion writers on the Court. Justice Ginsburg was often the first justice to issue an opinion in an argued case, and almost always got at least one opinion out during the Fall of any given term (a feat that only one justice on the Court was able to accomplish this term).

Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who replaced Justice Ginsburg on the Court, may also be filling Justice Ginsburg's role as the most proficient opinion writer. Justice Barrett was the author of the Court's first majority opinion of the term, a brief, unanimous opinion in Arellano v. McDonough.  This opinion was the one-and-only opinion for the Court in an argued case issued last fall. (The Court also issued a one-line per curiam in In re Grand Jury, dismissing that case as improvidently granted.)

Today Justice Barrett issued her second opinion for the Court in Bartenwerfer v. Buckley, another unanimous opinion for the Court. Justice Sotomayor wrote a brief concurrence, joined by Justice Jackson.

But that is not all. Justice Barrett also authored the dissent in Cruz v. Arizona, which was also released today, and joined by Justices Thomas, Alito, and Gorsuch. Accordingly Justice Barrett has issued three opinions in argued cases before four of her colleagues have managed to issue a single one. (The only other justices to issue majority opinions in cases so far this term are Justices Sotomayor, who had the majority in Cruz, and Justice Kagan, who wrote for the Court in Helix Energy Solutions Group, Inc. v. Hewitt, over dissents by Justice Gorsuch and Justice Kaganaugh, joined by Justice Alito.