For the past two weeks, we’ve been studying the voting dynamics of the Illinois Supreme Court, tracking which Justices voted together most (and least) often in non-unanimous civil and criminal cases. This week, we’ve arrived at the most recent data. Today, we’re taking a look at agreement rates in civil cases from 2010 to 2015.

In Table 406, we report the data for Chief Justice Garman, Justice Burke, and part of the data for Justice Freeman. For the most part, Justice Freeman appears to be the closest match in voting patterns to Justice Burke on the civil side. In 2010, Justices Burke and Freeman voted together in 55.56% of civil cases, but the next year, that number was up to two-thirds. They voted together in 94.74% of civil cases in 2012, 85.71% in 2013, and two-thirds in 2014 and 2015. For 2010, Justice Burke voted the same as Justice Garman half the time. She voted the same as Chief Justice Kilbride and Justice Thomas in only 37.5% of civil cases. For 2011, Justice Burke voted with Justices Garman, Thomas and Karmeier in 77.78% of civil cases, with Justice Theis in 62.5%, and with Chief Justice Kilbride only 22.22% of the time. In 2012, Justice Burke agreed in between seventy and eighty percent of non-unanimous civil cases with Justice Theis (77.78%), Justice Thomas (76.47%), and Justices Karmeier and Garman (73.68% each). She agreed with Chief Justice Kilbride in only 36.84% of civil cases. For 2013, Justice Burke agreed with Chief Justice Garman and Justices Karmeier and Theis in 57.14% of non-unanimous civil cases. She voted with Justice Thomas 46.15% of the time, and with Chief Justice Kilbride only 15.38% of the time. In 2014, Justice Burke agreed with Justices Thomas and Karmeier half the time, with Chief Justice Garman and Justice Kilbride in one-third of civil cases, and with Justice Theis only 16.67% of the time. Last year, Justices Burke and Karmeier voted together in 88.89% of non-unanimous civil cases. Justice Theis was the next closest match, with the two Justices agreeing in 77.78% of civil cases. Justice Burke agreed with Chief Justice Garman and Justice Freeman in two-thirds of non-unanimous civil cases, and with Justice Thomas in 57.14%. Her agreement rate for civil cases with Justice Kilbride was zero.

Not surprisingly, Chief Justice Garman has voted relatively similarly in recent years to the two other Republican Justices, Thomas and Karmeier. In 2010, she agreed with Justice Thomas at an 85.71% rate and with Justice Karmeier three quarters of the time. She agreed with Chief Justice Kilbride in 62.5% of non-unanimous civil cases, and with Justice Freeman in only one-quarter. In 2011, she voted with Justices Thomas and Karmeier 77.78% of the time, with Justice Theis in 62.5% of cases, and with Justice Freeman and Chief Justice Kilbride in 44.44% of cases. In 2012, Justice Garman’s agreement rate with Justice Thomas was up to 88.24%, but her rate with Justice Karmeier was down a bit, to 73.68%. For 2012, Justice Garman agreed with Justice Theis in 72.22% of cases, with Justice Freeman 68.42% of the time, and with Chief Justice Kilbride in 31.58%. For 2013, Chief Justice Garman agreed with Justice Theis in 92.86% of civil cases, with Justice Thomas 84.62% of the time, with Justices Freeman and Karmeier 71.43% of the time, and with Chief Justice Kilbride in 38.46% of cases. For 2014, Chief Justice Garman agreed with Justices Thomas and Karmeier in 83.33% of non-unanimous civil cases, with Justices Freeman and Kilbride in two-thirds, and with Justice Theis in half. Finally, for 2015, Chief Justice Garman agreed with Justice Thomas in 100% of non-unanimous civil cases. Her agreement rate with Justice Theis was 88.89%. She agreed with Justice Karmeier 77.78% of the time, with Justice Freeman in 55.56% of cases, and with Justice Kilbride one third of the time.

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The data demonstrates that the Democratic Justices have arguably not been as close a voting group as the Republican Justices in civil cases in recent years. For example, as we see in Table 406, Justice Freeman agreed with Chief Justice Kilbride in only 37.5% of non-unanimous civil cases in 2010, 11.11% in 2011, 42.11% in 2012, 23.08% in 2013, two-thirds in 2014, but only one third in 2015. On the other hand, his agreement rates with Justices Thomas and Karmeier frequently hovered around fifty percent: with Justice Thomas 37.5% in 2010, 44.44% in 2011, 70.59% in 2012, 61.54% in 2013, 50% in 2014 and 71.43% in 2015, and with Justice Karmeier, 44.44% in 2010 and 2011, 68.42% in 2012, 57.14% in 2013, 50% in 2014 and 55.56% in 2015. With only a one-year exception, Justice Freeman’s voting patterns are even more similar to Justice Theis: 50% in 2011, 72.22% in 2012, 71.43% in 2013, 16.67% in 2014 and 66.67% in 2015.

Chief Justice Kilbride’s agreement rates with Justices Thomas and Karmeier were generally around fifty percent as well. With Justice Thomas, he was at 57.14% in 2010, 44.44% in 2011, 41.18% in 2012, 58.33% in 2013, 50% in 2014 and 42.86% in 2015. With Justice Karmeier, his agreement rates were 37.5% in 2010, 44.44% in 2011, 31.58% in 2012, 41.67% in 2013 and 50% in 2014. In 2015, Justice Kilbride’s agreement rate with Justice Karmeier fell to only 11.11%. His agreement rate with Justice Theis followed a similar course, hovering at around 50% from 2011 through 2014 before falling to 22.22% in 2015.

Justice Thomas’ agreement rate with Justice Karmeier remained high throughout the period – 87.5% in 2010, 100% in 2011, 76.47% in 2012, 76.92% in 2013, 100% in 2014 and 71.43% in 2015. His agreement rate with Justice Theis tended to be about ten to fifteen points lower – 62.5% in 2011 and 2012, 76.92% in 2013, 66.67% in 2014, and 85.71% in 2015. Finally, Justices Karmeier and Theis voted the same in 62.5% of divided civil cases in 2011, 72.22% in 2012, 71.43% in 2013 and 66.67 in 2014 and 2015.

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Join us back here tomorrow as we address the Court’s voting patterns in criminal cases during these same years.