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Key Excerpt: Specter and Sotomayor on Caseloads

Courtesy of CQ Transcriptions

SEN. SPECTER: Let me return to a subject I raised yesterday but from a different perspective. And that is the issue of the Supreme Court taking on more cases. In 1886, there were 451 cases decided by the Supreme Court, in 1985, 161 signed opinion, in 2007, only 67 signed opinions. The court has not undertaken cases involving circuit splits.

In the letter I wrote to you, which will be made a part of the record, listing a great many circuit splits and the problems that that brings when one circuit decides one day, another circuit another, and the other circuits are undecided and the Supreme Court declines to take cases.

Do you agree with what Justice Scalia said, dissenting in (inaudible), where the court refers to take a key circuit split that when the court decides not to, quote, "it seems to me, quite irresponsible to let the current chaos prevail with other courts not knowing what to do"?

Or stated differently, do you think the Supreme Court has time to and should take up more circuit splits?

JUDGE SOTOMAYOR: It does appear that the Supreme Court's docket has lessened over time, its decisions that it's addressing. Because of that, is certainly does appear that it has the capacity to accept more cases. And the issue of circuit splits is one of the factors that the court's own local rules set out as a consideration for justices to think about in the cert process.

So in answer to your question, the direct answer is, yes, it does appear that it has the capacity.

Continue reading the exchange between Sen. Specter and Judge Sotomayor here.

By Washington Post editors  |  July 16, 2009; 11:15 AM ET
Categories:  Hearings , Supreme Court , Topics: Caseloads  
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