January 13, 2005

The mysterious Justice Ginsburg.

As noted yesterday, it was the vote of Justice Ginsburg that made the Sentencing Guidelines case so complicated. There were two sets of four justices, and she agreed with one set in finding a violation of the right to a trial by jury and with the other set for devising the remedy for the violation. Linda Greenhouse writes:
The mystery in the case was Justice Ginsburg, who joined the Stevens group, as she consistently has, in applying the Sixth Amendment to the guidelines. She then provided Justice Breyer with his fifth vote to preserve the system's architecture. She did not write a separate opinion to explain herself. The court took considerably longer on the case than had been expected. Many people thought a decision would be out by Thanksgiving, and it is possible that Justice Ginsburg's vote, and therefore the outcome, was in play until late in the process.

Oh, how I hate when that happens! You have a lengthy case, with multiple confusing opinions, and the one person who could explain why it came out that way is not talking. And you want me to read this? I protest!

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