Friday, June 5, 2009

Supreme Court Justice Ideological Profiles

Calculating ideologies is an occupation (some might say an occupational hazard) of political scientists.  According to well known political scientists Andrew Martin and Kevin Quinn, on their website here,

Measuring the relative location of U.S. Supreme Court justices on an ideological continuum allows us to better understand the politics of the high court. In addition, such measures are an important building blocking of statistical models of the Supreme Court, the separation of powers system, and the judicial hierarchy.

Picture 2 Their  "The Ideological History of the United States Supreme Court, 1937 - 2007," provides a graphic representation (with some interactive features and downloadable) of their analysis of the "liberal" and "conservative" ideologies of United States Supreme Court Justices. 

Who is the bluest (most liberal) judge? 

Who is the reddest (most conservative) judge?

There is also a link to a video analysis of "Souter's Leftward Drift."

Of course, for some Constitutional Law Professors, the ascription of "liberal" and "conservative" ideologies and outcomes is not easily reducible to numbers.  While there may be a more-or-less agreed upon assignment of conservative/liberal ideologies in a case such as Roe v. Wade, other cases on the website's timeline such as Boy Scouts of America v. Dale and Kelo v. City of New London may be subject to more dispute. 


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