Swift Justice: The Battle for the Fastest Justice Heats Up

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The U.S. Supreme Court’s coveted title of “Fastest Justice” is running neck and neck.

In case you’ve been distracted by other … things … here’s some background on this historic race.*

Though no one can quite remember when it officially began, every term the justices dash to see who can churn out the quickest opinions.

In modern times, the race has been dominated by two individuals: "Rapid" Ruth Bader Ginsburg and "Swift" Sonia Sotomayor.

Rapid Ruth has long dominated the competition. But the then-newbie Swift Sonia pulled off an upset during the 2010 term. According to SCOTUSblog statistics, she managed to dash off her opinions in an average of just 84 days from the time of the oral argument. Rapid Ruth put up an uncharacteristically high number that term, taking 95 days on average to finish her opinions.

But Rapid Ruth shot back with back-to-back wins during the 2011 and 2012 terms. In 2012, she walloped the competition, taking just 60 days to turn out a decision. Swift Sonia took 93 days.

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While the title returned to Swift Sonia for the 2013 term, the world was stunned when Justice Antonin Scalia eked out win, taking just 81 days on average to finish his—often memorable—opinions. Rapid Ruth and Swift Sonia took 88 and 85 days, respectively, that term. So close.

Rapid Ruth took back the title in 2015 and quickly set her eyes on the prize for the current 2016 term. She took the early lead this term by getting out the first signed opinion, which took her just 57 days to complete. Swift Sonia quickly shot back with her own 57-day opinion, the term’s second signed opinion.

The two have remained neck and neck since then.

As of May 30, 2017, Swift Sonia has the slimmest of leads, averaging 71.4 days per opinion to Rapid Ruth’s 71.6.

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Rapid Ruth will be hard pressed to stay with Swift Sonia though. That’s because it looks like she’s writing the court’s longest outstanding decision, Sessions v. Morales-Santana. Tough break.

*DISCLOSURE: This isn’t actually a historic race… yet.

Be sure to follow along to see if Rapid Ruth can find a way to victory by signing up for a free trial to United States Law Week.