When liberals get their way at SCOTUS, close decisions are hailed as "historic" markers of great "progress." When conservatives win, the "bitterly divided" Court hands down "controversial" decisions. Based on the tone of new comments from stalwart leftist Ruth Bader Ginsburg, right-leaning court watchers might be justified in anticipating some welcome rulings in the coming days. She knows exactly how the pending cases have been privately resolved, of course, so consider the potential tea leaves accordingly:
RBG warned today that SCOTUS may be sharply divided over some of the “most watched” cases that remain, and said "the event of greatest consequence of the current term, and perhaps for many terms ahead" is the fact that Kennedy “announced his retirement," @Arianedevogue reports— Manu Raju (@mkraju) June 7, 2019
Some of the replies from CNN viewers to that tweet serve as a less-than-friendly reminder that unhinged conspiracy theories are alive and well on the political Left, in addition to the Right. Here's a bit more of what RBG had to say:
Ginsburg suggested Friday that the Supreme Court is deeply divided over its most-watched cases, hinting that a series of 5-4 decisions are likely as the court approaches the end of its current term. Ginsburg said to the Second Circuit Judicial Conference the court was unlikely to achieve consensus on several high-profile matters. “Of the 43 argued cases resolved so far, only 11, or just over 25%, were decided by a vote of 5 to 4 or 5 to 3,” Ginsburg said. “Given the number of most watched cases still unannounced, I cannot predict that the relatively low sharp divisions ratio will hold.”
Some of the most anticipated pending cases involve issues ranging from partisan gerrymandering to the inclusion of a citizenship question on the US Census. At the same event, as Tim flagged, Ginsburg singled out Justice Kavanaugh -- whose addition to the Court she indirectly lamented above -- for praise over his selection of law clerks:
"Justice Kavanaugh made history by bringing on board an all-female law clerk crew. Thanks to his selections, the Court has this Term, for the first time ever, more women than men serving as law clerks." Ruth Bader Ginsburg #IWlaw #SCOTUS @SenateGOP https://t.co/Oq0JMYROBo— IWV (@IWV) June 9, 2019
As Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told me last week, if a Supreme Court vacancy were to present itself prior to the completion of President Trump's first term, the GOP majority will move to fill it. The stakes would be especially high if a hypothetical vacancy presented the Trump-McConnell confirmation juggernaut with the opportunity to forge a 6-3 right-leaning majority. Liberals continue to flirt with the notion of packing or expanding the Court in the future, a scheme Dan McLaughlin opposes strongly at National Review. His conclusion to a lengthy, history-based case:
Building a Supreme Court majority is, today, the patient work of decades, requiring the ongoing persuasion of voters in presidential and Senate races. Even as the two parties escalate their judicial-nominee power plays in the Senate, the nominations remain periodic affairs dictated by the outcome of elections. To swamp that effort irreversibly after a single election is to tell voters that, after all that investment of time, the democratic process was a mirage and some outcomes will simply not be tolerated by the system. After Dred Scott, despairing radical abolitionists such as John Brown decided to forsake the ballot box and take matters into their own hands. Southern fear, stoked by Brown, led to secession rather than acceptance of the outcome of the 1860 election. When ballots were no longer respected, bullets ruled. We have, as Ben Franklin noted, a republic, if we can keep it. Few things would push this nation more swiftly down the path toward the dissolution of two centuries of stable self-government than Court-packing. Nothing else on the policy menu of either party in 2020 is remotely as alarming.
McConnell called this potential power grab a "genuine" threat, given the Left's long history of zero-sum escalations. This one would be shocking and extraordinary, however.