A question in the comments, reacting to the cable television coverage of the Sotomayor nomination:
Um, where did this “90% of her opinions have been overturned.” crap come from?
Limbaugh, like you needed to be told:
I doubt that Sotomayor can be stopped. She should be. She is a horrible pick. She is the antithesis of a judge, by her own admission and in her own words. She has been overturned 80% by the Supreme Court. She may as well be on the Ninth Circus Court of Appeals, given all the time she’s overturned. She has been reprimanded by a truly strong Hispanic judge, Jose Cabranes. She has been rebuked in writing by Cabranes for opinions that she wrote that had no bearing on the constitutional issues before her in the case that was being decided. Details on that coming up. But here is why, even though she may not be able to be stopped, here is why Sonia Sotomayor needs to be opposed by the Republicans as far as they can take it, because the American people need to know who Barack Obama really is, and his choice of Sonia Sotomayor tells everybody, if we will tell the story of her, who he is.
Yeah, about that 9th Circuit (despite the fact she is from the 2nd Circuit, we will look at the Ninth since Rush is holding it up as the standard for outrageously high numbers):
As Media Matters for America has documented (here, here and here), the 9th Circuit’s reversal rate of 76 percent during the 2003-04 Supreme Court term was virtually the same as the national average of 77 percent for all circuit courts. Likewise, the percentage of reversals — 75 percent — of 9th Circuit decisions for the 2002-03 Supreme Court term was almost the same as the national average of 73 percent for the total number of federal circuit court cases reviewed. For the 2001-02 term, the 9th Circuit’s reversal rate was 76 percent while the national average was 78 percent. During the 1990s, however, the 9th Circuit’s reversal rate did exceed the national average, most notably during the 1996-97 term, when the court’s 95-percent reversal rate topped the national average of 71 percent and “earned the Western circuit its reputation as the nation’s ‘most reversed,’ ” according to a July 3, 2004, article in the Sacramento Bee.
Basically, they are hoping you are a moron and have no idea how Supreme Court cases are picked.
*** Update ***
Commenter KG elaborated on this as I was writing this post, and pretty clearly we have a mind meld going:
she’s had something like 6 decisions while on the Second Circuit go up to the Supremes. Three of them have been overturned. This is not wholly uncommon. Usually when a case makes it to the Supreme Court it’s because there is a Circuit split. One circuit has ruled that the law says X and another says that the law says not-exactly-X, or even Y. The Supreme Court must then figure out what the law says. Sometimes they hold that it says X, sometimes they say it says not-exactly-X, sometimes they say it says Y, and on occasion, they’ll even say “you’re both wrong, it says Z.”
This stems from a fundamental misunderstanding – in many cases, a purposeful ignorance – of how, exactly, the American legal system works. I made the mistake of listening to Rush this morning on the way into the office (without even knowing the pick had been made), and was just amazed at how little he knew of the legal system.
This “x% of her opinions have been overturned” is just more nonsense.
*** Update #2 ***
More here from Smooth Like Remy.
*** Update #3 ***
Via the comments:
According to this edition of the Harvard Law Review at pp 522-524, the Ninth Circuit’s won/loss record – how many times its decisions were affirmed on appeal to the Supreme Court, was:
It doesn’t mean they were ‘reversed’ each time. Sometimes, cases were vacated, remanded, or otherwise resolved – but the point is their holdings didn’t hold up well at BigBoy Court. You’d call a football team with that record The Browns. Cherry picking it for the year the 9th made the playoffs or had fewer cases vacated and more remanded wouldn’t hide the fact they are out of sync with the Supreme Court. (Not saying the Supreme Court is on the right side in these, just that they have final word).
That states Media Matters cherry picked the data I used in the original results, and this .pdf backs it up. Regardless, this is besides the point, since Sotomayor is on the 2nd Circuit, not the Ninth.
*** Update ***
So, to boil it down to it’s essence. Rush says Sotomayor has been reversed 80% by the Supreme Court. We find out through various tortuous arguments that She has heard 380 cases of which only 6 have been reviewed by the Supremes. Of these only 3 have been overturned. So thats .8% are overturned. In the recent past The reversal rates for all cases heard by the Supremes are 61% and Sotomayor has been reversed 50% of the time.
In other words there is no there there, Rush is full of shit and the sun sets in the west.