What the Supreme Court’s Conservative Lean Means for Election Year

What the Supreme Court’s Conservative Lean Means for Election Year

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In theory, the Supreme Court was created to function as a nonpartisan judicial branch of the government. However, recent events have shaped the highest court of the land to have a decidedly conservative lean. This lean to the right could intersect with the upcoming 2020 presidential election in several ways that could shape our country and its laws.

Heading into the presidential election of 2016, President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland to take over the vacancy that was created by the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia. Obama nominated Garland for the position in March 2016. However, the Senate Majority Leader at the time, Mitch McConnell, was clear that the Republican-led Senate would not approve of any of Obama’s appointments for the role. The Supreme Court was left with eight judges until President Donald Trump was elected and able to push through his choice of Justice Neil Gorsuch.


Once appointed, judges remain in their position for life, with very few exceptions to the strict selection process that goes through the U.S. Senate. This makes new appointment possibilities throughout any given president’s term the exception, rather than the rule. Heading into the 2020 election, it is unlikely that any of the current Supreme Court justices will step down. Many liberal politicians are growing increasingly worried about the health of 86-year-old Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Justice Ginsburg has been in and out of the hospital for various health concerns throughout the last year.

Conservatives hope that by stacking the courts with justices who subscribe to their ideologies, they will be able to roll back previous rulings to benefit their political positions. Issues that are especially susceptible to being reconsidered include rulings on abortion, immigration and gun rights. Just one significant ruling can change the whole trajectory of any of these issues.

While Chief Justice John Roberts was appointed by President George W. Bush as a conservative-leaning judge, his mostly centrist approach has been hailed by many on both sides of the party divide. As the leader of the Supreme Court, it is up to Roberts to ensure that the court does not let politics play a role in the court’s decisions. Liberals hope that Roberts protects the role of the court as a neutral arbiter.


However, liberals still have concerns about how Roberts will handle things this year. For example, one issue that has some people concerned is partisan gerrymandering. The Supreme Court’s conservative majority has said that they believe this is a political dispute, not a legal one. Last year, much to the chagrin of the liberal minority, Roberts stated that federal courts are not the place to settle these disagreements. Critics fear that this ruling will unfairly influence states to be under one party’s control. This could have a significant influence on this year’s elections. Liberal judges such as Elena Kagan severely disagree with Roberts’ logic and are worried that the federal government is failing to do its job by not fixing what is, in their minds, a constitutional violation.

To fully understand how the U.S. government functions, it is important to understand how these three branches of government work together. When we examine facts like these, it’s clear that though the Supreme Court is meant to be nonpartisan, its conservative lean could mean bad news this election year for liberals. Only time will tell what impact this lean will have on the election, but if the court’s influence continues as it has been, liberals might just be out of luck this election cycle.

Content from The Bipartisan Press. All Rights Reserved.


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