Who Are the Remaining Liberal Justices on the Supreme Court?

U.S. Supreme Court

Fred Schilling, Supreme Court The Roberts Court, November 30, 2018. Seated, from left to right: Justices Stephen G. Breyer and Clarence Thomas, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., and Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Samuel A. Alito. Standing, from left to right: Justices Neil M. Gorsuch, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and Brett M. Kavanaugh.

After U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death, who are the remaining liberal justices on the Supreme Court? There are now three justices that form the more liberal side of the court and five justices that are more conservative.

Ginsburg died at the age of 87 due to complications from pancreatic cancer, a statement from Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. indicated. After her death, tributes poured in from across the U.S. According to C-Span, President Donald Trump was told of Ginsburg’s death after a Minnesota rally and said: “She just died? Wow. I didn’t know that. You’re telling me now for the first time. She led an amazing life. What else can you say? She was an amazing woman. Whether you agreed or not. She was an amazing woman who led an amazing life. I am sad to hear that.”

Ginsburg was a liberal stalwart on the Supreme Court and the leader of the court’s liberal arm. If Trump nominates a replacement justice for Ginsburg’s position and that nominee wins the Senate vote, that person will become the third Supreme Court justice added to the bench during Trump’s presidency, after Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.

There Are Three Liberal Justices & Five Conservative Justices But They Don’t Always Vote Along Those Lines

Following Ginsburg’s death, the Supreme Court is now made up of three liberal justices — Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan — and five conservatives justices — John Roberts Jr., the chief justice, and Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito Jr., Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. Republicans have said that they plan to confirm a new Supreme Court justice appointee even in the final days of Trump’s term to avoid a 4-4 split.

The justices have not always voted along those lines, with Chief Justice Roberts siding with the liberals on a few key issues during Trump’s first term. In two high-profile cases, Roberts was the swing vote in the liberals’ favor in a ruling that ensured access to abortions in Louisiana and in rejecting Trump’s attempt to end the DACA program, according to the Guardian. He also ruled against Trump in the case of his tax returns and took the liberal side in ruling to expand LGBTQ workplace rights, along with Gorsuch.

Although he has sometimes sided with liberal justices, Roberts will likely side with the other conservative justices in terms of voting rights issues. The Supreme Court has already ruled on voting matters during the pandemic and the conservative justices, including Roberts, have mostly stayed in step, ruling in favor of state limits on mail-in voting and other matters, the Washington Post reported.

Two of the Three Liberal Justices Were Nominated By Obama & One Was Nominated by Clinton

Breyer, 82, was born in San Francisco, California, and obtained his law degree at Harvard Law School, his Supreme Court profile states. From 1980 to 1994, he served on the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, first as a judge and in the final four years as its chief judge. He was nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court by President Clinton in 1994. In a March 2020 interview, Breyer said he is in good health and does not plan to retire. “I enjoy what I’m doing,” he told Axios.

Sotomayor, 66, was born in the Bronx, New York, and earned her law degree from Yale Law School where she was also the editor of the Yale Law Journal, her profile states. She was first nominated in 1991 to the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, by George H.W. Bush, where she served from 1992 to 1998, and then she was a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit until 2009. She was nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court by President Obama in 2009.

Kagan, 60, was also born in New York, and obtained her law degree at Harvard Law School, according to her profile. She served four years as Associate Counsel to the President in the Clinton Administration and then as Deputy Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy. From 2003 to 2009, she was the dean of Harvard Law School. In 2009, Obama nominated her Solicitor General of the United States, and the following year, nominated her to the Supreme Court.

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