Although the outcome of Wednesday’s decision by the Supreme Court to side with the U.S. Navy in its dispute against environmentalists was obvious, it wasn't so easy to definitively count the votes.
What we do know is that the court voted to lift a preliminary injunction imposed by a federal judge in Los Angeles. We also know that the 9th Circuit's modified order was vacated. But who voted for what? The case is Winter v. Natural Resources Defense Council, 07-1239.
In Summary: Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito joined. Justice Stephen Breyer wrote an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part. Justice John Paul Stevens joined part one of Breyer’s opinion, in which Breyer agreed that the district court’s injunction should be vacated. In the second part of Breyer’s opinion, he said that the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ modified injunction should be kept in place until the Navy completed an environmental review. Finally, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote a dissenting opinion, in which she was joined by Justice David H. Souter.
The confusing vote here is Breyer’s, because although he agreed with the majority in terms of lifting the lower court restrictions, he ultimately became a dissenter by saying the 9th Circuit restrictions should remain in place. Therefore, the vote was 6-3 to remove all restrictions on the Navy, but 7-2 to vacate the lower court's preliminary injunction.