Supreme Court Prediction
This year’s cases likely will be decided by an 8 member court. Trump’s nominee may or may not be confirmed, but the process probably will not play out in time for the next justice to take part in any of this term’s cases. The justices are split 4–4 between liberals and conservatives, Thomas, Alito, Roberts and Kennedy being the conservatives, Kagan, Ginsburg, Breyer and Sotomayor being the liberals.
Thomas and Alito are hard line conservatives, so I don’t expect them to deviate from their predispositions. Roberts and Kennedy are not as hard line and could support the liberals in close cases this term.
Why do I think so? Cases are decided by people and people are not always completely rational. As any lawyer knows, any Supreme Court case can be argued and decided either way, so the psychology of judges should not be discounted.
Why would psychology favor the liberals this term? Well, the Senate Republicans have blocked Merrick Garland, a perfectly qualified nominee, known and respected by everyone on the Supreme Court. The block has had the effect of making each justice work harder, taking up the slack of a missing colleague, and has been a slap in the face of a respected fellow member of the judiciary. Subconsciously, this could and may well have the effect of tilting otherwise conservative justices to the liberal position in borderline cases. Payback can happen. I predict it will.