This is an important year for Supreme Court scrutiny of the Sixth Circuit. Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus is the eleventh Sixth Circuit case that the Supreme Court has taken this Term, which is the most since 2004. That number is higher than for any other circuit except the Ninth (also eleven).
We have noted here recent commentary that the Sixth Circuit is surpassing the Ninth Circuit as the most frequently reversed of all the Federal circuits. But, in fact, the truth may be more nuanced than that commentary suggests. After all, the Supreme Court decides very few cases and it is common knowledge that habeas has served as a flash point between the courts. Last year, for example, the Supreme Court only took two cases from the Sixth Circuit, both criminal cases. In short, there is not enough data to draw sweeping conclusions.
This year, the Sixth Circuit cases before the Supreme Court encompass a wide range of issues that extend well beyond criminal law and habeas. So far, two of the eleven decisions have been reversed. But one of the cases was reversed outside of the merits (Ford Motor Co. v. United States) and the other was a habeas case (Burt v. Titlow). Given the breadth of types of issues under review, perhaps a more meaningful assessment of Supreme Court review of the Sixth Circuit will emerge after the dust settles on this Term.
In sum, given the high number and diversity of Sixth Circuit decisions up for review, this is an important year for understanding Supreme Court scrutiny of the Sixth Circuit. The additional decisions will certainly inform the debate on how the Sixth Circuit is viewed by the Supreme Court. We will study the decisions as they are issued along with historical data to gain the fullest picture of the Sixth Circuit possible.