SCOTUS: Not nearly as predictable as we expected

If one thing is becoming clear, it is that the Supreme Court isn’t nearly as predictable as we thought it would be after the Trump appointments of Gorsuch and Kavanagh. An article in USA Today actually sees the liberal faction as the greater tribal threat. As a liberal myself I take the point:

“In sum, if lockstep voting and a results-driven court concern us, it isn’t the conservatives we should be worried about. While senators, journalists and academics love decrying the Roberts Five, it’s the (Ruth Bader) Ginsburg Four that represent a bloc geared toward progressive policy outcomes. To be sure, a reinvigorated conservative grouping may yet come to dominate the court — especially if Trump fills another seat — but it hasn’t happened yet.”

I went backwards and considered the most recent SCOTUS rulings (since Kavanagh joined the court last year) to see explicitly how the opinions break down. The results are interesting to say the least. It’s noteworthy that the conservative Gorsuch aligned with the four liberals on no less than five occasions for a 5-4 ruling: Washington State Department of Licensing v. Cougar Den Inc., Herrera v. Wyoming, United States v. Davis, United States v. Haymond, and Mitchell v. Wisconsin.

And there are only seven cases in which all five conservatives trump the four liberals: Nielsen v. Preap., Bucklew v. Precythe, Lamps Plus, Inc. v. Varela, Franchise Tax Board of California v. Hyatt, Manhattan Community Access Corp. v. Halleck, Knick v. Township of Scott, and Rucho v. Common Cause. I actually agree with the conservative majority in four of them (Nielsen, Bucklew, Manhattan, Knick), was neutral about one (Hyatt), and disagreed with them only in two (Lamps Plus, Rucho).

Like his predecessor Scalia, Gorsuch is proving himself to be the best conservative justice on the court (and at this moment in time, he’s my favorite), and the conservative justices on whole are not doing so badly.

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