Rare Supreme Court Case Goes Mostly Unnoticed 

(JustPatriots.com)- Last week, the conservative and liberal justices of the U.S. Supreme Court decided on a case with rulings that included some surprising bedfellows. 

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court issued a 5-4 decision in a case involving a Romanian-American dual citizen who neglected to register millions of dollars in overseas bank accounts. Whether or not he violated the Bank Secrecy Act by not reporting the assets was before the bench. 

Unexpectedly, the court found in favor of the taxpayer. The justices Gorsuch, Alito, Kavanaugh, Roberts, and Jackson formed one side of the court. Justices Thomas, Barrett, Sotomayor, and Kagan were dissenting. 

Despite common belief, the court does not always split along party lines. Unanimous decisions are not unheard of, but they are getting less frequent. Around a third of the cases were settled last term with no dissenting votes, and another 17 percent had only one. 

Jackson, the liberal newbie on the bench, joined three of the court’s conservative members and Chief Justice Roberts, considered the center ground on the court, in the majority finding in the newest case. Two staunch liberals and two conservatives, including Justice Thomas (the most conservative court member), formed the dissenting group. 

While many predicted the court’s new conservative majority would easily outvote their liberal counterparts, the opposite has happened. Last term, the court issued the highest number of polarized decisions in decades, with all of the liberal justices agreeing on one side and all of the conservative justices disagreeing. 

Recent decisions show that while the conservative bloc of six justices has garnered the most attention for its unanimity on critical issues like the overturning of the constitutional right to abortion, four conservative justices, including all three of Trump’s appointees (Barrett, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh), have occasionally joined their liberal colleagues in majority opinions. 

An associate professor at the University of Houston named Alex Badas notes that it is typical for a justice’s initial judgment to be unanimous in demonstrating “collegiality” among the bench. 

Yet divided choices are becoming more common. In the most recent term, they accounted for 21% of all rulings, an all-time low since 1995. 

Badas said that “people often see the Court as less legitimate” when they think party politics drive the Supreme Court.