TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Monday, October 5, 2015

Supreme Court Justices Get More Liberal As They Get Older

538 (2015)FiveThirtyEight, Supreme Court Justices Get More Liberal As They Get Older:

There’s an old saw, often mistakenly attributed to Winston Churchill, that goes something like this: “If you’re not a liberal when you’re 25, you have no heart. If you’re not a conservative when you’re 35, you have no brain.” A person should start left and drift right, and not the other way around, the adage suggests.

But when it comes to Supreme Court justices, growing older appears to incite a trend in the opposite ideological direction. One prominent measure of judicial ideology — the Martin-Quinn score — illustrates this tendency. ...

538

The current nine justices haven’t been shielded from these westward winds....

5382

Why might this happen? What forces act upon a justice as he or she ages on the bench? Here are a few theories that emerged after I poked around and talked to some experts:

https://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2015/10/supreme-court-justices-get-more-liberal-as-they-get-older.html

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Comments

I would be willing to posit that the "isolation effect" plays a role. Just as a district may feel they are sending a firebrand off to Washington, it is inevitable - except in the rarest of cases (ex., the Cruz effect) - that they seek a certain sociability. They seek to acclimatize to the Washington scene. They simply lose touch with those friends and colleagues that form their social circle and thus tend to think in terms of "Washingtonian."

Posted by: Tom N. | Oct 5, 2015 11:57:42 AM

It's probably the same reason that almost everyone who works in government becomes more pro-government over time: Acclimation.

Posted by: AMT buff | Oct 5, 2015 12:16:29 PM

Could also be mental decline

Posted by: Steve | Oct 6, 2015 6:52:36 AM

If comments had a like button, I'd give a huge like to Steve.

Posted by: Dale Spradling | Oct 6, 2015 1:06:56 PM