Ten Commandments of the Supreme Court

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

What is sacrosanct? Whatever advances progressive causes.

1) Right to Left. The majority of post-war Republican Supreme Court nominees, who were initially perceived as conservative, turned liberal on the bench (Harry Blackmun, William Brennan, David Souter, John Paul Stevens, Earl Warren), or went from right-wing to center-right or centrist (Warren Burger, Sandra Day O’Connor, Anthony Kennedy, John Roberts). Perhaps the pressures of approval from the liberal social and political culture of Washington, D.C., becomes finally overwhelming. Or justices sense that the liberal media and historians will praise and memorialize a “maverick” who “grows,” “matures,” or “evolves,” while dismissing a “recalcitrant,” “hard-core,” or “reactionary” justice who remains a strict constructionist. A conservative president perhaps realizes that he will get more praise from the Left than blame from the Right when his malleable nominee bolts and become progressive. The ongoing liberal political reassessments of Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush in part came from their nominations of Justices Kennedy, O’Connor, and Souter. Or perhaps as we age we all tire a bit and cave to popular pressures and prefer “to just get along” in our sunset years. Controlling the culture — and the threat of ostracism from it — is a powerful tool in massaging political ideology.

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