Back in 1900, author Finley Peter Dunne quoted Mr. Dooley, his fictional Irish saloonkeeper, as saying, "The Supreme Court follows the election returns."
That is certainly the case with the Supreme Court term that just ended. "The Roberts Court is a different Court because George Bush won the last election and John Kerry did not," legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said. "That is the beginning and end of the reason why this is a much more conservative Supreme Court than two years ago."
In several significant cases, a conservative majority that included both Bush appointees changed the Court's direction.
On the old Court, three reliably conservative justices—William Rehnquist, Antonin Scalia, and Clarence Thomas—were frequently joined by Anthony Kennedy, a moderate conservative. Four reliable liberals—Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, David Souter, and John Paul Stevens—were sometimes joined by Sandra Day O'Connor, a swing vote.
On the new Court, Bush has replaced Rehnquist with John Roberts, an even more reliable conservative. He also replaced O'Connor with Samuel Alito, a reliable conservative. Alito's vote, along with that of Kennedy, shifted the Court's majority to the conservatives. The four liberal justices are now almost always in the minority on close votes.