Scalia’s Absence: A Quick Monday Breakdown

Justice Antonin Scalia’s absence has been a thorn in the side of U.S. jurisprudence for the past year. FantasySCOTUS and the {Marshall}+ Algorithm have remained accurate in predicting individual Justices’ decisions. The problem, though, is that the votes in 4-4 splits are undisclosed at this time.

Making matters worse, the U.S. Senate has declined to provide advice and consent on a potential nominee from President Obama before his term expires this January. This has led to several headaches, most notably in the convoluted mess stemming from Zubik v. Burwell.

Not only is SCOTUS down to eight members right now, but Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Anthony Kennedy, and Stephen Breyer are all over 75. Retirement may be in the cards soon for these Justices. Bouts of illness become increasingly likely with age. This introduces additional uncertainty to an already volatile situation.

United States v. Texas is perhaps the most widely known controversy to stem from this volatility. The Court’s 4-4 tie vacated an immigration plan by the Obama administration that would have deferred the deportation of up to four million unauthorized immigrants and provided them with work authorization.

Another 4-4 tie in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association helped public-sector unions retain the ability to collect dues from workers irrespective of their desire to join a union. And Scalia was a particularly powerful voice during initial arguments on this case. Here’s our breakdown:


In the event of a 4-4 tie, the votes of the individual Justices are not disclosed. In Friedrichs, The Crowd and The Algorithm predicted the split. The results for U.S. v. Texas were not so accurate. With a brand new Justice not in play until some time next year, Scalia’s absence continues to keep the Case Accuracy Rate uncertain.