This Article seeks to examine and compare the judicial behaviors of the five conservative justices on the Supreme Court, especially John Roberts and Neil Gorsuch, through the lens of their social backgrounds and opinion-writing and -joining patterns. The research for this Article focused on the frequency with which all nine justices on the high court joined each other’s opinions and were joined by each other justice, as well as a control group of three earlier Supreme Court terms for comparison. This is the best indicator of whether justices are in alignment on a case, not just on the outcome but also the reasoning behind the outcome.
I will lay out four hypotheses relating to either Roberts or Gorsuch and how their social backgrounds influence their jurisprudence in ways that deviate from the expected and then use this research to confirm or reject those hypotheses. In doing so, this project seeks to shed light on a set of Supreme Court justices, especially among the conservative bloc, whose votes seem increasingly harder to predict. As seen in recent terms, there is no longer a single usual swing vote, as there might have been in the past, but at least two conservative justices who are liable to side with liberals on certain cases. This Article seeks to determine on what issues and in what circumstances those unexpected votes occur.
The Tyranny of Their Mirrors: Social Backgrounds and Variations in Conservative Judicial Philosophies,
Fordham Undergrad. L. Rev.
Available at: https://research.library.fordham.edu/fulr/vol2/iss1/1