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7/04/2005

Does being on the Supreme Court make you liberal?

DHinMI (via Daou) says there's a reason why conservatives keep being disappointed by Supreme Court Justices:

Long before Sandra Day O’Connor announced her retirement, one of the rallying issues for the cultural right wing was to do whatever possible to ensure that George W. Bush pick a “reliable” conservative who would strike down the decisions supported by apostate conservative Republican appointees like Anthony Kennedy, John Paul Stevens, David Souter and O’Connor herself. The rightwing is obsessed by the idea that Republican Presidents have muffed their Supreme Court appointments by picking people who weren’t really conservative, but who “concealed” their true beliefs until, safely ensconced on the Supreme Court for life, they wage war on mom, apple pie, unborn children and “sexual relations as God intended.”

There’s a problem with the theory, however ... in general, the problem (from the perspective of cultural conservatives) isn’t that the picks of Republican Presidents haven’t been conservatives. The problem that faces conservatives is that being on the Supreme Court makes almost everyone more liberal.

It is odd that most of the Justices picked by Republicans aren't nearly as far to the right as the GOP itself. This could be because they became more liberal during their tenure on the Court. But it is probably also a function of the continuing rightward shift of both parties over the last few decades. What looked like a conservative in 1975 looks a lot like a liberal now.

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