Last term, the much-advertised, -expected, -feared, -longed-for conservative Supreme Court majority coalesced. After many false starts, misfires, and disappointments—going back to Richard Nixon’s pledge in the 1968 campaign to reverse the Warren Court’s activism, or even Dwight Eisenhower’s appointment of Earl Warren and Bill Brennan— conservatives will remember the term as the one when they finally, finally, had enough votes to overcome “defections.”
Five years after Neil Gorsuch was confirmed, and in the second term with Amy Coney Barrett on the bench, the Republicanappointed majority asserted itself.
The statistics bear this out: of the term’s 60 opinions in argued cases—a historically low number—14 involved a 6-3 “partisan” split, to which can be added ten 5-4 decisions, in all of which the three liberal justices stuck together. So 40 percent of cases were “ideological”—including the big ones on school choice, religion, guns, vaccine mandates, environmental regulation, and, of course, abortion—and only 25 percent (15 cases) were unanimous. These are striking numbers—the former high, the latter low—and very different from any year since I became a Court watcher.
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