How liberal was Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg?
Bottom Line: The voting records of Supreme Court Justices are often overstated. Most of the cases the Supreme Court rules on aren’t highly partisan split decisions with charged majority and dissenting opinions. In fact, just two months ago in my story: SCOTUS Decisions aren’t generally as partisan as often perceived I shared this with you...
Since Brett Kavanagh joined in 2018. Here’s how often each justice has ruled with the majority opinion:
- Roberts: 91%
- Kavanaugh: 91%
- Kagan: 81%
- Gorsuch: 80%
- Breyer: 78%
- Alito: 76%
- Ginsburg: 76%
- Sotomayor: 74%
- Thomas: 71%
Is there division on the court? Yes, though as you see in that example, while only two Justices were less likely to vote with the majority opinion, she still voted with the court’s majority over three-fourth's of the time. But what about those famous (or infamous based on your perspective) split decisions? Using the University of Washington’s Supreme Court Database, when there is a split decision along perceived partisan lines, the most conservative justice on the court currently is Samuel Alito. Alito votes with the perceived conservative position 84% of the time. The most liberal - it was Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Ginsburg voted for the perceived liberal position in split decisions 85% of the time. Her voting record was the most partisan, left or right, of any justice on the Supreme Court in 5-4 decisions.
While the U.S. Supreme Court’s ideological bend is overstated generally, the record shows Justice Ginsburg was the liberal standard bearer on the court. This stands in contrast to Justice Anthony Kennedy, who had a voting record which was 56% more conservative than Justice Ginsburg. Replacing Ginsburg with just about any Justice would likely move the court towards the right. Replacing her with a Justice who’d side primarily with the conservative positions on the court would have a significant impact on the court’s general ideological bend. Likely the most in decades.