This variable specifies the number of justices voting in the majority; minVotes indicates the number of justices voting in dissent.
In non-legacy cases, a quorum requires the participation of six justices for a decision on the merits.
The number that appears in this variable pertains to the number of justices who agree with the disposition made by the majority (see caseDisposition) and not to the justices' vote on any particular issue in the case. Thus, for example, in Bates v. Arizona State Bar, 433 U.S. 350 (1977), the vote in the case was 5 to 4, even though all participants agreed that the disciplinary rule prohibiting attorney advertising did not violate the Sherman Act. Unlike the majority, the dissenters disagreed that the rule violated the First Amendment.
Please note: Because the early reporters did not always note whether a Justice was absent for a particular case, we consulted the front matter to each volume of the U.S. Reports. For example, volume 77 states: "The Chief Justice did not participate in any of the judgments reported in this volume after page 151. Nor did Mr. Justice Nelson participate in those reported between pages 141 and 410." Sometimes it was simply impossible determine non-participation. E.g., from the January Term 1834: Justice Duvall "was prevented from attending the Court until some time after the commencement of the term."
See also Minority Votes (minVotes) and Vote Not Clearly Specified (voteUnclear).
Voting & Opinion Variables