The Volokh Conspiracy

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Supreme Court

Kavanaugh v. Gorsuch—The Return

Today's opinions are a requel to prior splits among the most recent Republican appointees to the Supreme Court.


This morning the Supreme Court decided two cases in which Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote the majority opinion and Justice Neil Gorsuch dissented: Reed v. Goertz and Turkiye Halk Bank v. United States. The former case concerned the statute of limitations for Section 1983 procedural due process claims. The latter (in which Justice Gorsuch only dissented in part) concerned whether district courts have jurisdiction over criminal claims against foreign state-affiliated banks given foreign sovereign immunity.

This is not the first time we have seen splits between these two justices who were appointed to the Supreme Court by the same President within a span of only 18 months. I blogged about splits between Justices Kavanaugh and Gorsuch back in 2019, here and here.

Note that we've also seen a significant number of splits between Justices Gorsuch and Barrett, including Bittner v. United States, in which Gorsuch wrote the majority and Justice Barrett wrote the dissent. Last term, Justice Gorsuch dissented from two-thirds of Justice Barrett's majority opinions.

This growing list of splits among justices appointed by the same President, across a range of subjects, helps illustrate how simplistic descriptions of justices' perceived political ideology do not capture much about their actual jurisprudence.

[Note: Yes, I meant to use the word "requel" in the subhead above.]