Emory Law Journal

Volume 60Issue 2
The 2010 Randolph W. Thrower Symposium, The New New Deal: From De-Regulation to Re-Regulation

The Most Important (and Best) Supreme Court Opinions and Justices

Frank B. Cross & James F. Spriggs II | 60 Emory L.J. 407 (2010)

Identifying the most important cases decided by the Supreme Court is more than an interesting parlor game; the process illuminates the function of the law. The Court issues scores of opinions annually, some of which go on to assume great importance in future years, while many others languish in desuetude. Some opinions may appear to be important (e.g., they are commonly found in constitutional law casebooks), when in fact they have little real impact on the nation’s law. This Article embarks upon the project of identifying which Supreme Court opinions have proved the most legally significant and exploring why. We employ an analysis of citations to opinions. Other legal authors have used citation studies to assess the importance or value of opinions or judges. We build upon these existing analyses with more sophisticated measures and a focus on what makes Supreme Court opinions more or less important in the law.

Read More »