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Monday, May 22, 2006 

The Bush Bench

Has George W. Bush been able to change the direction of the federal courts through his appointments? This article says yes. Take a look at these numbers...
By their count, Bush's judges issued liberal rulings or opinions in 33 percent of their nearly 800 decisions in the study. That was predictably lower than the figures for judges named by Democratic presidents Lyndon B. Johnson, Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton. But it was also lower than the scores for judges named by Richard M. Nixon (38 percent), Ronald Reagan (36 percent) or the elder George Bush (37 percent).

"There's been a quiet, silent revolution going on," Carp said in an interview. "If you're a conservative, you'’re going to say, 'Thank God.' If you're a liberal, you're going to put your hands over your head and say it's a nightmare."
It's still early to tell if these numbers will hold for the Bush judges. If they do hold, it will be quite an achievement.

The article goes on to examine the distinctions between "politically conservative" and "judicially conservative", as well as discussing some of the legislation that Bush-appointed judges have been hostile towards. It closes with this...
With two Bush-appointed justices, the Supreme Court may be shifting to the right - giving lower-court judges that much more room to move in the same direction. "If the Supreme Court starts to change," Carp says, "I think you've got a lot of district court judges who are chomping at the bit."
It remains to be seen how much of an effect that Roberts and Alito will have on the Court. There is still no solid five-vote conservative bloc, so I doubt there will be many earth shaking opinions. Until that fifth vote gets on the Court, I expect a lot of issues decided in the Roberts-brand "narrow focus". Maybe that will continue to be Roberts' style for the next 30 years. However, that may just be a way of biding time until another retirement comes. Then the fun really begins...

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