Pretty simple question actually. I'm just wondering which President was the most overturned statistically at the Supreme Court since FDR?

So what do I mean when I say a President is overturned? Looking for analysis where the President or the DOJ (either the Attorney General or Solicitor General) enjoins the case either as petitioner or respondent. I would add to this whenever the United States is either the defendant or the prosecutor too. For example when the USSC upheld the Obamacare mandate that would be +1 for Obama.

Obviously some of the laws and cases will predate the administration that may need to defend them.

  • This might get complicated when you consider actions that were instituted in the administration of one president, but defended/lost in another. Jan 27, 2017 at 18:06
  • @DavidGrinberg Let's call that the carryover effect. Attempts to mitigate it are appreciated in the analysis.
    – user9790
    Jan 27, 2017 at 18:08
  • I don't understand this question. Presidents don't get over-turned by the Supreme Court. They may over-turn laws, but Presidents and Congress share responsibility for laws. Are you just looking for something like, "Laws passed in President X's term were 50% likely to be over-turned"? Jan 27, 2017 at 18:35
  • @indigochild Sure they do. For example take a look at when Obama tried to insist he could determine when the Senate was in session. washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2014/06/26/…
    – user9790
    Jan 27, 2017 at 18:40
  • @KDog - That's not an example of a President being over-turned. That's an example of one of the President's actions being over-ruled. We couldn't even begin to compile statistics on this without having the scope of the actions to consider being layed out. Jan 27, 2017 at 18:41

1 Answer 1


According to the Washington Free Beacon:

President Barack Obama had the worst record before the Supreme Court in modern history, losing half of the cases argued before the High Court in his two terms, according to a new study.

The academic study written by Washington University professor Lee Epstein and University of Chicago law professor Eric Posner found Obama had the “worst record of any President” since Franklin D. Roosevelt. In fact, his presidential performance before the Supreme Court “may be the worst since the Zachary Taylor administration” in the 19th century.


“[T]he reason this president has done so poorly at the high court is because he sees no limits on federal—especially prosecutorial—power and accords himself the ability to enact his own legislative agenda when Congress refuses to do so,” wrote Ilya Shapiro, a senior fellow in Constitutional Studies at the Cato Institute.

  • Since the ratio itself depends on the high number of attempts, (which was a side effect of the adversarial Congress), it would be interesting to contrast the actual number of "wins" against those of other presidents, ignoring win/loss ratios. That is, one might possibly, with greater effort and substandard tools, accomplish more than another who had better tools and average effort.
    – agc
    Jan 28, 2017 at 17:35
  • 2
    The opinions of the Cato Institute should be taken with a grain of salt. They are neither bipartisan nor impartial. As for the ratio itself, the Bush Administration appointed a number of conservative judges, and a number of the Court's decisions might have been different, had the judges been different. I also agree with @agc, that because the Republican-led Congress was so obstructionist, Obama had to bring cases to the Supreme Court that would never, in the term of any other Congress, have had to be tried there, and the success rate would have been more favorable. No reflection on him.
    – jaxter
    Jan 28, 2017 at 23:47
  • 2
    @jaxter Obama was also the most overturned unanimously. And all you are really are saying was that both Congress and the Courts refused to go along with an extremist agenda.
    – user11168
    Jan 29, 2017 at 15:27

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