If Republicans have their way, it might be a long time before another Supreme Court Justice joins the bench. But Dahlia Lithwick documents all the ways the Court is already changing in the short time since Antonin Scalia’s death in an article titled: The Conservative Era is Over.
* As she wrote previously, the women took over during oral arguments on an abortion case.
* A unanimous order affirming the right of same-sex partners to adopt children and the tossing of a death penalty conviction in Louisiana.
* “Friday’s unsigned order allowing several abortion clinics in Louisiana to reopen their doors, following an emergency decision from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that would have shuttered all but one clinic in that state.”
* Embattled Justices Thomas and Alito have formed an alliance of two as a bulwark against “the path set out by their six colleagues.”
* There’s also “a growing sense among conservative interest groups and litigation shops that the good times and rich bounty of the old Roberts court are no longer on offer and that it may be better to cut and run than stick around and lose.” That includes a recent settlement by Dow Chemical in their major anti-trust appeal and the fact that a key gun rights group opted to drop its challenge to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s SAFE Act.
Lithwick draws this conclusion from what she’s seen so far:
Expect a lot more weirdness and subtle signaling from the court as the term rolls on. An institution that never wished to be an election issue has become one. What might have once been routine orders have now turned into a complex game of reputation management. Whether it’s the chief justice trying to appear apolitical, the conservative justices trying to fly the flag of ideology, or the liberals making hay while the sun briefly shines, nothing at the court these days is exactly what it appears to be, and it appears it will be that way for a while.
As public pressure on Republican Senators ramps up against their obstruction strategy and the prospect of Donald Trump as the party’s presidential nominee portends the potential loss of their Senate majority, it will be increasingly difficult for Republicans to justify their position. If the trends Lithwick identified continue, you can add to that the specter of an increasingly liberalized Supreme Court.