July 25, 2010

CONSERVATIVE BY THE STANDARD OF IVY LEAGUERS...:

Court Under Roberts Is Most Conservative in Decades (ADAM LIPTAK, 7/24/10, NY Times)

The proposition that the Roberts court is to the right of even the quite conservative courts that preceded it thus seems fairly well established. But it is subject to qualifications.

First, the rightward shift is modest.

Second, the data do not take popular attitudes into account. While the court is quite conservative by historical standards, it is less so by contemporary ones. Public opinion polls suggest that about 30 percent of Americans think the current court is too liberal, and almost half think it is about right.

On given legal issues, too, the court’s decisions are often closely aligned with or more liberal than public opinion, according to studies collected in 2008 in “Public Opinion and Constitutional Controversy” (Oxford University Press).

The public is largely in sync with the court, for instance, in its attitude toward abortion — in favor of a right to abortion but sympathetic to many restrictions on that right.

“Solid majorities want the court to uphold Roe v. Wade and are in favor of abortion rights in the abstract,” one of the studies concluded. “However, equally substantial majorities favor procedural and other restrictions, including waiting periods, parental consent, spousal notification and bans on ‘partial birth’ abortion.”

Similarly, the public is roughly aligned with the court in questioning affirmative action plans that use numerical standards or preferences while approving those that allow race to be considered in less definitive ways.

The Roberts court has not yet decided a major religion case, but the public has not always approved of earlier rulings in this area. For instance, another study in the 2008 book found that “public opinion has remained solidly against the court’s landmark decisions declaring school prayer unconstitutional.”


...but still quite liberal by the standard of the American people.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 25, 2010 8:18 AM
blog comments powered by Disqus
« 80-20 COUNTRY: | Main | SLOW RIVER: »