Academics and Research

Law school professor featured in article about Supreme Court split decision

Tuesday’s 4-4 split decision by the U.S. Supreme Court — on a case involving fees collected by labor unions from workers who choose not to join unions — is the second such split decision in the past month, due in part to the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

The vote has news organizations across the country wondering whether more tie decisions are likely until a replacement for Scalia is named, and one of the experts being consulted is Justin Pidot, an associate professor at the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law.

The National Law Journal features a Q&A with Pidot — who has an article forthcoming in the Minnesota Law Review on tie votes in the Supreme Court — in its March 29 story titled “How Justices Can ‘Dig’ Their Way Out of Tie Votes.”

Pidot examined the 164 cases in which a tie vote occurred between 1925 and 2015. The two recent split votes, he told the National Law Journal, suggest that “the justices may be unwilling to find common ground or to find a means of disposing of these cases without throwing up their hands. I think it’s a real loss and risks further eroding public confidence in the court.”

Pidot goes on to say in the article that public confidence in the Supreme Court has eroded in recent years due to a number of controversial decisions that are viewed as highly political, including Bush v. Gore, same-sex marriage and Citizens United.

“When you take that growing distrust for the court and add to it a term that has a number of high-profile, high-stakes, deeply divisive cases … I think the optics are bad,” he tells the National Law Journal. “It looks like politics are dominating the needs of the country.”

Read the full article at the National Law Journal website.

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