Supreme Stalemates: Chalices, Jack-O’-Lanterns, and Other State High Court Tiebreakers

High courts + high stakes = high drama. But not always. As the Supreme Court’s 2015 Term showed, some bombshell cases fizzle rather than dazzle. During the fourteen months it took for Justice Antonin Scalia’s successor to arrive at One First Street, some of the Term’s most controversial—and consequential—cases divided 4–4. And when the highest court in the land deadlocks, it issues a dry, nine-word order: “The judgment is affirmed by an equally divided Court.” Supreme stalemate.

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