The ideology of the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court has always been a topic of discussion and debate, and with hot-button issues before the Court like the health care law mandate, immigration and affirmative action, the chatter is louder than ever. But just where do the justices sit on the ideological scale?
According to a news study, the justices are not a band of judicial activists, as some accuse. Their diverse views largely mirror those of Americans, according to researchers.
“Despite its intentional isolation from popular pressure, the Court’s decisions are not out of line with public preferences,” write Stephen Jessee of the University of Texas and Neil Malhotra of Stanford University in the unpublished paper “Ideological Proximity and Support for the Supreme Court,” according to the Washington Post. “This contrasts with popular images of judges as rogue activists.”
According to the study, the Court’s most conservative justice is Justice Clarence Thomas, whose views lie to the right of 97 percent of Americans surveyed. Justice Antonin Scalia was second, with views that are more conservative than about 89 percent of Americans.
On the other end of the scale, retired Justice John Paul Stevens was seen as the most left-leaning jurist, with views that are more liberal than 85 percent of surveyed Americans. He just beat out Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who is to the left of 83 percent of those surveyed.