The court of Chief Justice John G. Roberts has made some spectacularly conservative decisions over the years, from upholding a ban on partial-birth abortion to striking down key campaign finance regulations. But as several decisions, including upholding tax subsidies for the Affordable Care Act and today’s legalization of gay marriage, show, the Roberts court is increasingly drifting left. A graphic from the Times’ Upshot shows exactly how.
The graphic covers SCOTUS decisions from 1946 to 2015. Each bar represents a year, with decisions color-coded from very conservative in dark red to very liberal in light blue. You’ll see that the Roberts court is still far more conservative than, say, the Warren court of 1967, and the graphic provides a nice macroshot of the court’s conservative and liberal decision-making over time. But compared with most previous terms since Roberts became chief justice, the court is skewing decidedly blue. Note that the graphic was completed before today’s gay marriage decision so that light blue bar on the right should be even taller.
It’s a great day for LGBTQ people across the nation, and the court’s 5-4 decision to legalize gay marriage could help this term be remembered as one of the most liberal of the 21st century.