Rising Liberalism in the Conservative Supreme Court: Not a Normal Day at the Office

The balance of power in the US Supreme Court was tilted heavily in favor of conservatism in the wake of Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the court.

However, some recent events have raised the eyebrows of the political ideologists about the paradigm shift in the US Supreme Court.

Despite the pervasiveness of the conservative justices, the court is certainly is not as conservative as it was supposed to be.

In times when the court is dominated by conservatism, some decisions in favor of liberalism are making the leftists happy.

Seeing this, the Biden administration is more than satisfied, since if he succeeds in expanding the Supreme Court, the balance will be tilted further in their favor, increasing the liberalism in the US Supreme Court.

Official portrait of U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts, who was supposed to be the right-hand man of Donald Trump, yet he drifted away from conservatism.

Chief Justice John Roberts: A Conservative yet the Advocate of Liberalism in the US Supreme Court:

Chief Justice John Roberts was supposed to be one of the most conservative justice and a right-hand man of Donald Trump in the US Supreme Court.

Having him as the chief justice meant death to liberalism in the US Supreme Court.

However, shockingly, when he gave ruling in Trump’s most sought-after financial records last summer, it was a drift from the conservatism ideology.

Many assumed that he has moved to the liberal faction, or to the center, to say the least.

According to the justice pairing data by Adam Feldman for SCOUTSBlog, Chief Justice John Roberts aligned more with Justice Elena Kagan, who is a liberal, than with other conservative justices.

Chief Justice Roberts also backed liberals’ stance in some high-profile cases, but most of them were limited in scope.

However, despite having a soft corner for liberalism, he still has a tendency toward conservatism.

Melissa Murray, a law professor at New York University, also summed up this assumption that Chief Justice John Roberts is moving toward the center. She feels it should be viewed differently, i.e., the court itself is moving towards the right.

So, the Chief Justice must move in the middle to keep the balance, and this is what he is doing right now, instead of promoting liberalism in the US Supreme Court.

It is next to impossible to deduce the inclination of the whole court by seeing the voting pattern of the Chief Justice as being the head of the court; he is likely to practice different ideologies based on the circumstances.

Donald Trump
Former President Donald Trump whose financial record’s case was the beginning of the US Supreme Court drifting away from conservatism.

Trump’s Tax Return: A Case which Encouraged Liberals

Last summer, the Supreme Court ruled against former President Donald Trump’s claim regarding presidential immunity on any legal order to release his financial details.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in a 7-2 majority verdict that granting such immunity to Trump is against the 200-years-old precedent.

The Chief Justice joined four liberal judges along with two other conservatives in this ruling. Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh were the other two conservative justices who went against Donald Trump.

This was the moment when hopes were raised about the paradigm shift in the US Supreme Court, as it was seen as the increasing liberalism in the US Supreme Court.

However, the court also denied immediate access to the president’s documents by the House of Representatives. 

Then came the landmark ruling of the DACA program, which also suggested the rise of liberalism in the US Supreme Court.

Upholding the Obama-era program was never expected of the Supreme Court, and which is why this decision surprised many.

Rising Liberalism in the Conservative Supreme Court: Not a Normal Day at the Office

Conservative Court Protecting LGBTQ and Abortion Rights: Not a Normal Day at the Office

The verdict of the Supreme Court on the LGBTQ rights and abortion cases was also seen as a victory for progressives. 

In the Bostock and Harris Funeral Homes case, the decision given by Conservative Judge Neil Gorsuch in a 6-3 decision held that the state ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. 

The June Medical Services decision was hailed as a victory of abortion rights advocates, which would never be possible had the Supreme Court practiced rigid conservatism. In this case, the court ruled with a 5-4 majority that the restriction on abortion was a violation of the Constitution.


Supreme Court on Religion: A Final Nail in The Coffin

Religion has been primarily a litmus test for scrutinizing the political ideologies of the US Supreme Court justices.

The court’s opinion on religion could be extracted through three cases from last year; Little Sisters of the Poor, Our Lady of Guadalupe School, and Espinoza v. Montana.

The Little Sisters case was globally followed as it referred to contraception and the Affordable Care Act of the Obama Administration.

In this case, the court endorsed that the Trump Administration had granted a much broader exception for some people belonging to a particular religious group to be exploited by the employers. 

The majority opinion gave the idea that the government should respect the religious beliefs of marginalized groups, which also signifies the increasing liberalism in the US Supreme Court.

Respecting the marginalized community was also seen as a move towards liberalism in the US Supreme Court.


Final Thoughts

The final nail in the coffin seems to be the US Supreme Court’s decision in the Texas lawsuit in the aftermath of Trump’s claim of voter fraud.

Having decisions along the liberal grounds despite having a dominant majority in the US Supreme Court is not normal.

The nomination of Justice Amy Coney Barrett was seen by many as the win for conservatism, and it indeed was, but it has not unfolded as Donald Trump and the company envisioned it.

Now, when the Biden administration is looking for the expansion of the Supreme Court to put more liberal justices in it, the conservatives have much to worry about as it can be the ultimate hack of the liberals to win the US Supreme Court.


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