The Supreme Court of the USA: The Roberts Court (2005-to present)

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The most conservative court in decades?

  • In its first 5 years (2005-2010), the Roberts Court issued decisions that could be called 'conservative' 58% if the time.
  • In 2008-09, this figure rose to 65% - the highest number in any year since 1953.
  • The Warren Court issued conservative decisions only 34% of the time.
  • Both the Burger Court (1969-86) & the Rehnquist Court (1986-2005) issued conservative decisions 55%
  • 4 of the 6 most conservative justices of the 45 who have sat on the Court since 1937 are still serving today: Chief Justice Roberts along with justices: Alito, Scalia & Thomas.
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To what extent is it an activist court?

  • The Roberts Court has in fact been less activist than its predecessors, both in terms of laws struck down & precedents overruled.
  • The Roberts Court has been much more consercatice on those occasions when it has struck down a federal or state law, or overruled a precedent.
  • The Roberts Court is not an activist Court, but when it is, its decisions are conservative.
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Average number of laws struck down per term

Warren (1953-69) - 7.9

Burger (1969-86) - 12.5

Rehnquist (1986-05) - 6.2

Roberts (2005 -) - 3.0

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Average number of precedents overruled per term

Warren - 2.7

Burger - 2.8

Rehqnuist - 2.4

Roberts - 1.6

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