(LA Progressive) -- Do Republican-appointed Supreme Court justices get more liberal as they age? A formidable body of academic research suggests that they do. This idea offers a sliver of comfort to those alarmed by Donald Trump’s appointment of Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh to the nation’s most powerful judicial body, as well as by the even more disturbing prospect that if Trump is reelected, he may get to place additional conservatives on the court.
Although no one is sure what causes this liberalizing dynamic, it’s easy to track the process in the careers of such GOP appointees as the late Harry Blackmun, the author of the majority opinion in Roe v. Wade, and, more recently, in the records compiled by retired Justices David Souter, John Paul Stevens and Anthony Kennedy. As I have pointed out in this column before, we can even discern a modest move to the left by Chief Justice John Roberts.
As with most rules and research, however, there are exceptions. Enter Justice Clarence Thomas. Unlike some of his GOP counterparts, Thomas has demonstrated no migration to the ideological center. If anything, he’s become increasingly radical over time.
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