Diamond legend Ted Williams once said that hitting a baseball "carries with it the continuing frustration of knowing that even if you are a .300 hitter... you are going to fail at your job seven out of ten times." The same, apparently, is true for Supreme Court appellees. Over each of the last several terms, the high court has reversed 75% of the cases that have come before it.
That number might seem high, but it makes perfect sense. The Supreme Court, unlike the federal circuit courts of appeal, can choose which cases it wants to hear (a perogative called certiorari). The Supremes select just a handful of matters (maybe 1-2% out of thousands) each year, and they generally pick rulings they'd like to overturn. After all, if they're happy with an appeals court decision, why spend more time on it if they'd only uphold it?
Judge Sonia Sotomayor, though, seems to have something in common with Teddy Ballgame - her average was well above average. Indeed, Sotomayor's decisions were upheld far more frequently than the norm. Apparently, out of the 380-odd opinions she penned while on the Second Circuit, the Supreme Court granted cert on just six. And of those six, Sotomayor was reversed on only three. That's a .500 batting average, a figure even Ted Williams would have to admire.
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