The voting records of Supreme Court Justices are often overstated. Most of the cases the Supreme Court rules on aren’t highly partisan split decisions with a charged majority and dissenting opinions. In fact, just two months ago in my story: SCOTUS Decisions aren’t generally as partisan as often perceived, I shared this with you how often each justice has ruled with the majority opinion since Brett Kavanagh joined in 2018.
Is there division on the court? Yes, though as I mentioned in that story only two Justices were less likely to vote with the majority opinion, they still voted with the court’s majority over three-fourths of the time. But what about those famous or infamous based on your perspective split decisions? Using the University of Washington’s Supreme Court Database, when there is a split decision along perceived partisan lines, the most conservative justice on the court, Samuel Alito votes with the perceived conservative position 84% of the time. The most liberal, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, voted for the perceived liberal position in split decisions 85% of the time. Her voting record was the most partisan, left or right, of any justice on the Supreme Court in 5-4 decisions.
While the U.S. Supreme Court’s ideological bend is overstated generally, the record shows Justice Ginsburg was the liberal standard-bearer on the court. This stands in contrast to Justice Anthony Kennedy, who had a voting record that was 56% more conservative than Justice Ginsburg. Replacing Ginsburg with just about any Justice would likely move the court towards the right. Replacing her with a Justice who’d side primarily with the conservative positions on the court would have a significant impact on the court’s general ideological bend. Likely the most in decades.
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