Conservative Justices Might Make Conservative Rulings

USA Today’s Joan Biskupic seems genuinely surprised that the appointment of a conservative Chief Justice and conservative Associate Justice to the Supreme Court by an ostensibly conservative president might shift the Court in a rightward direction.

Now, granted, we don’t really know because very few rulings have been handed down since Alito joined the court. But Biskupic can read the tea leaves, most notably oral arguments during which Chief Justice John Roberts and Alito have “added flair to the court’s public sessions and have contrasted sharply with the tentative approach that moderate Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and Anthony Kennedy often took in disputes over abortion, affirmative action and other key issues.”

Considering that Kennedy is still on the court, that’s a rather odd point of comparison. Still, one would expect (and conservatives certainly hope) that Alito would be more conservative than the wishy-washy O’Connor and there’s reason to expect that Roberts will be as conservative as his predecessor, the late William Rehnquist. Then again, O’Connor was a Reagan appointee and disappointed conservatives everywhere. Only time will tell whether Alito and Roberts remain true to their principles or “grow” while in office.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.