Saturday, May 15, 2010

Supreme Imbalance

When I write that it'll take at least four supremely liberal nominees to return the Supreme Court to a liberal-conservative balance, I'm not just blowing smoke.

As Scott Lemieux writes, this needs wider circulation:

And I think this data — because it can’t fully account for shifts in the center of gravity in the Court — actually understates the asymmetry between the current “conservative” and “Rockefeller Republican liberal” wings. Very few legal scholars, I think, would see Burger (74) as comparably conservative to Scalia (76) — but of course there’s a difference between being “conservative” compared with majority opinions being frequently written by Powell and Stewart and Brennan, as opposed to being “conservative” compared with majority opinions frequently being written by O’Connor and Kennedy and Rehnquist.

Look at that chart again: Of the five most conservative justices since 1933, four are still sitting on the court today.

Of the five most liberal justices since 1933, the number still sitting on the court today is ... none.

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