I have a memory of a case but I can't seem to find it.

What I remember is that there was a case in which the court split along partisan lines. Then, a few years later, a similar case came before the court except that the decision from the previous case, if consistently applied, would now result in the opposite party benefiting. All the justices flip-flopped except for Clarence Thomas, with the result being that the liberals "won".

Does anyone know what (two) case(s) I'm talking about?

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    Just so you know, 5-4 decisions in SCOTUS are rare... they more likely than not tend to agree in a large part and are pretty friendly with each other.
    – hszmv
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 19:40
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    It isn't that unusual for any justice of SCOTUS to do something like that many times every year or two, so without a brute force search it would be hard to know what you are getting at. I wouldn't be surprised if there were 20 cases that fit that description.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Apr 12, 2018 at 0:18

1 Answer 1


I found the case in an episode of Amicus (podcast).

Mark Joseph Stern was on the show and Dahlia Lithwick referred to an article he had written about the subject. Here is a quote from the article:

In the 1990s, Thomas disapproved of race-conscious redistricting designed to empower black Democrats; today, he objects to race-conscious redistricting designed to empower white Republicans.

In the 1990s, all the conservative justices voted to not allow taking race in to account to create solidly black districts. All the liberals said that it would be ok. Now (in Cooper v. Harris) all the liberals are saying it is not ok to take race in to account when destroying Democratic districts through gerrymandering and the all the conservatives said it would be ok, save Clarence Thomas, who remained consistent with the previous ruling, giving the liberal justices a victory.

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    Glad you found the answer. You can click the check mark next to this post to mark your question as resolved. Also, it would be great for future readers if you'd like to add the exact names and citations for the cases in question. Commented Apr 15, 2018 at 14:22

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