This Year’s Supreme Court Decisions On-Track to be most Liberal in 46 Years

Wednesday, June 24, 2015
(photo: J. Scott Applewhite, AP; photo illustration: Steve Straehley, AllGov)

Even with several key decisions still to come, the current term of the U.S. Supreme Court is on pace to be the most liberal since 1969.


Overall, the court under Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. has been a conservative one, according to research by The New York Times. “But even conservative courts have liberal terms – and the current term is leaning left as it enters its final two weeks,” Alicia Parlapiano, Adam Liptak and Jeremy Bowers wrote for the Times


A legal analysis of this term’s rulings as of June 22 revealed 54% have been liberal.

If that rate holds, it would be the most liberal since the 1969 term under Chief Justice Earl Warren.


The Roberts’ court also has had the most conservative term, 2008, since the Warren court. Roberts’ court overturned a District of Columbia gun ownership ban, weakened campaign finance reform, and upheld an Indiana voter identification law and Kentucky’s lethal injection statute.


“On campaign finance, gun rights, race and abortion, the justices have delivered strongly conservative rulings,” the Times said. “At the same time, the court does seem to have drifted slightly to the left since 2008, in part because of rulings on gay rights, health care and the environment.”


Conservatives should take heart, however. The court is still well to the right of where it was under Warren, when more than 70% of the decisions were considered liberal. There are also significant cases left this term for the court to decide, including ones involving same-sex marriage, the Affordable Care Act and lethal injection. Those may give a better clue whether the court is really shifting.

-Noel Brinkerhoff, Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

The Roberts Court’s Surprising Move Leftward (by Alicia Parlapiano, Adam Liptak and Jeremy Bowers, New York Times)

For Supreme Court Justices, the Right to Free Speech Depends on the Speaker’s Politics (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Supreme Court is more “Corporative” than Conservative (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)


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