The Era of Compartmentalization
The recent Supreme Court term produced a series of rulings that are important, not just for their particular outcomes, but for what they show about the direction of the court’s relatively new 6-3 conservative supermajority. Remember that until late 2020, conservatives had only a 5-4 majority, and the fifth vote was far from certain. Justice Kennedy was a wildcard swing vote who would sometimes side with the court’s “liberals,” and after he retired in 2018, Chief Justice Roberts often served as the cautious, moderating swing vote.
But with the appointment of Amy Coney Barrett to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg—one more reliable vote for the conservatives, one fewer for the liberals—the conservative legal movement had triumphed. It can now steer the direction of the court wherever they like. This newest batch of decisions gives us an idea of where they’re going.