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U.S. Supreme Court

Justice Kennedy Is Most Often the Swing Voter This Term

Posted Jun 29, 2011 5:30 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Justice Anthony M. Kennedy provided a crucial swing vote in several important cases this term, siding with his conservative colleagues in split decisions more often than liberals.

Sixteen cases were decided by a 5-4 vote this year, and Kennedy joined the majority in 14 of the decisions, the Wall Street Journal reports. In all of the court’s cases, he voted with the majority 94 percent of the time, outpacing Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who voted with the majority 91 percent of the time, the New York Times reports.

Kennedy joined with conservatives to shield businesses from class action suits, but sided with liberals in cases upholding a prisoner cap in California and holding that a youth’s age is relevant when deciding whether Miranda warnings are required.

Kennedy’s swing vote helped conservatives more than liberals. The court’s conservative bloc, including Kennedy, created the majority in 63 percent of the court’s 5-4 decisions, SCOTUSblog reports.

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