Is the Supreme Court Conservative?:

Writing in the Washington Monthly, Stephen Pomper offers this assessment of the Rehnquist Court:

  To the surprise of the legal left, the Rehnquist Court has refused to overturn Roe v. Wade and has broken new ground in protecting the civil rights of homosexuals. It has endorsed some forms of affirmative action. In last Spring’s highly charged enemy detainee cases, it refused to write the executive branch a blank check for wartime detention powers. And even in its hypertechnical (and therefore less controversial) federalism cases, which concern the powers of Congress over the states, the Court has feasted less aggressively on Congress’ legislative authority than might have been anticipated, contenting itself to snack on bits and pieces. In retrospect, liberal anxieties (including my own—see “The Gipper’s Constitution,” December 1999) about how far this Court would go in implementing the Reagan revolution are looking somewhat misplaced if not, on occasion, hysterical.

I think the picture is particularly interesting if we focus only on the Court’s decisions since Bush v. Gore. Terms like “liberal” and “conservative” are tricky, especially when you’re talking about the judiciary. But my tentative sense is that, on balance, the Supreme Court’s decisions post-Bush v. Gore have tended to have the overall effect of nudging the law slightly in a liberal direction. If you scroll down a list of all of the Court’s decided cases from the last three Terms, see here, here, and here, that seems to be the overall trend.

  Do you agree? I have enabled comments. As always, civil and respectful comments only.

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