After three high-profile appointments in recent years by President Donald Trump gave conservatives an apparent 6-3 advantage on the U.S. Supreme Court, many on the Right were expecting big things. Instead, they've been disappointed. The high court has repeatedly let down the Right by refusing to hear hot-button cases such as the challenge to last year's election, or upholding liberal policies like Obamacare.
What is often billed as a "conservative" Supreme Court is actually a right-leaning moderate court. "You really have a 3-3-3 court, you don't have a 6-3 court," says Josh Blackman, professor at South Texas College of Law Houston. "You have the super conservatives, Justices (Neil) Gorsuch, (Clarence) Thomas, and (Samuel) Alito, and then you have the more moderate justices...the Chief Justice (John Roberts), Justice (Brett) Kavanaugh who I think is pretty close to the chief, and Justice (Amy Coney) Barrett, who I think is closer to Kavanaugh than to Thomas, Alito and Gorsuch."
Case in point is last year's Texas case challenging the presidential election, rejected by the high court on a 6-3 vote, with Roberts, Kavanaugh and Barrett siding with the liberals to deny hearing the case. Blackman suspects some political influences were at play. "I think Justice Kavanaugh cares deeply about how people perceive him," he says. "I think he didn't want to take up the election litigation, because he didn't want to deal with that fallout."
But conservatives many finally have their big day in court, so to speak, with the high court this fall. "The court will hear a direct challenge to Roe V. Wade this year in a case out of Mississippi, and Mississippi has asked the court to overrule the famous abortion precedent," says Blackman. "I'm not confident the court will do that, I think they might do something short of that."
"But the bottom line is this new Roberts court I don't think is what conservatives necessarily bargained for."