Here's some good news for progressives: Scoring from four political scientists suggests that President Obama's Supreme Court nominee, D.C. Circuit Court Judge Merrick Garland, would land to the left of six sitting justices, including Elena Kagan and Stephen Breyer, who are both considered to be part of the court's liberal cohort. Only the notorious Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Sonia Sotomayor score to the left of Garland according to their history of rulings.
These judicial ideological ratings are based on Martin-Quinn scores, a system developed by Andrew D. Martin (University of Michigan, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts) and Kevin M. Quinn (UC Berkeley School of Law). So despite disappointment among many progressives with Obama's pick, if confirmed, Garland could potentially move the court further left than it's been in half a century or more, reports the New York Times.
If his past record is predictive, and Mr. Garland earns confirmation and votes with the court’s current liberal bloc, the new median justice will become Stephen Breyer, the most liberal median justice since 1937, when the scholarly rankings began. If Mr. Garland is more conservative than Justice Breyer but more liberal than Justice Kennedy, Mr. Garland would become the new median, the most liberal in nearly 50 years.
“For the first time in decades, the court might swing to a Democratic court,” said Lee Epstein, a professor of law at Washington University in St. Louis who measures and studies voting patterns on the court. “It’s a major moment.”
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