Another Rare 5-4 Thomas Opinion, and It’s Really Fractured

June 17th, 2013

Last year, Justice Thomas authored zero 5-4 opinons. This term, he has already authored two. First, Genesis HealthCare Corp. v. Symczyk which I commented on here. Second, today he authored Alleyne v. United States, and boy is it fractured.

THOMAS, J., announced the judgment of the Court and delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to Parts I, III–B, III–C, and IV, in which GINSBURG, BREYER, SOTOMAYOR, and KAGAN, JJ., joined, and an opinion with respect to Parts II and III–A, in which GINSBURG, SOTOMAYOR, and KAGAN, JJ., joined. SOTOMAYOR, J., filed a concurring in opinion, in which GINSBURG and KAGAN, JJ., joined. BREYER, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment. ROBERTS, C. J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which SCALIA and KENNEDY, JJ., joined. ALITO, J., filed a dissenting opinion.

Breyer broke off from the five-vote block and did not join Parts II and III-A. Ginsburg and Kagan joined Sotomayor’s concurring opinion. Breyer concurred by himself, and concurred in judgment.

As the most senior justice, CT assigned this opinion to himself, which can’t happen too often.