Catholic University Law Review, Vol. 54, No. 1 (Fall 2004), pp. 151-265


The goal of this Essay is to provide a resource of digestible proportions that any Court watcher (judge, lawyer, professor, student) can use to inform himself or herself about current developments at the Court. While the Essay discusses how the current Term compares to past ones, it does not do so simply as an exercise in dry social science. Instead, it highlights those trends of interest to both the scholar and the practitioner. Likewise, while the Essay discusses particular cases, it does not simply summarize facts and holdings. Instead, it places those doctrinal developments in a larger context, analyzes them, and critiques them.

This Essay proceeds in two parts. The first part provides the broad overview of October Term 2003. It analyzes current statistics in the size and composition of the Court's caseload and compares those figures to past terms. It also considers the justices' voting patterns and which justices proved to be the “swing” votes, both generally and in particular fields. The second part focuses on the key cases of the Term. It addresses both what the Court decided and what it failed to decide. It critiques those decisions and considers their implications for future doctrinal developments. The Court Consensus offers some closing lessons to be drawn from the Term.