June 10, 2009

When Supreme Court Seats Lurch to the Left - Scalia and Ginsburg

There are of course a variety of ways to measure the ideology of Supreme Court Justices, but if these scores are correct, in the 40-something years since Justice Thurgood Marshall joined the Supreme Court exactly 2 new members of the Supreme Court have been more liberal than their predecessor - Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia. That's something that I think people sometimes don't appreciate - sure their are liberal and conservatives, but there are a variety of stripes of both, and in our lifetimes the norm has been to nominate increasingly right-wing versions of both. And this could very well continue this year - I'm not at all sure that Sotomayor won't be to the right of Souter, even as she takes a "liberal" seat.

Other interesting trends in the numbers - while the intensity of one's tendency to the right or the left might change, most justices seem to fluctuate (if they do) within different shades of the same color. But some did move over the course of their careers, according to this measure - Frankfurter and Black from left to right, and Blackmun, Souter and Stevens from right to left.

Posted by armand at June 10, 2009 04:28 PM | TrackBack | Posted to Law and the Courts


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