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  •   The Court's Alliances

    Friday, July 2, 1999; Page A25

    Much has been made about the Supreme Court's critical 5 to 4 split and how the next president likely will be able to name new justices who could tip that balance of power. While that's true, one can't always judge an appointee by the president who chooses him. Witness the differences in President George Bush's two high court appointments: David H. Souter (1990) ended up more liberal than predicted and Clarence Thomas (1991) has become in many ways the most conservative. President Clinton's two appointees, Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1993) and Stephen G. Breyer (1994), are in the centrist mode of the man who brought them to the bench, but they have distinct differences and have often voted on opposing sides.

    Following are some of the important alliances that have emerged during the past five years. Thomas and Ronald Reagan appointee Antonin Scalia (1986) remain the strongest union among the nine justices, although they have increasingly diverged in their legal reasoning. During the past half decade, since these particular nine have been together, Souter has voted most often with Ginsburg.

    Joan Biskupic, data analysis by Sarah Cohen


    Court voting blocs
    During the past five years, Anthony M. Kennedy has been on the winning side most often, 86 percent, followed by Sandra Day O'Connor at 80 percent. John Paul Stevens has been a dissenter most often, at 48 percent. During the past term there were 16 decisions with 5 to 4 votes, of a total of 75 signed opinions. As is typically the case, about 40 percent of the cases were decided unanimously. The five-justice bloc that prevailed most was Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, O'Connor, Kennedy, Scalia and Thomas.


    © 1999 The Washington Post Company

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