When one looks at the Supreme Court in recent decades, it is clear that it has been a conservative Supreme Court, dominated by Republican appointments, and it has shown in such decisions as the Citizens United Case of 2010, and the partial repeal of the Voting Rights Act in 2013, along with numerous other such cases tilted to the right side of the political spectrum.
So for progressives and Democrats, it has been a difficult time, wondering how the Supreme Court can be returned to the glorious era of the Warren Court and Burger Court from 1953-1986.
But there is the reality that the Supreme Court’s future for the Democratic Party and progressivism is very bright over the next decade, assuming what seems highly likely, that Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden or some other Democratic Presidential nominee will have the electoral college advantage for 2016, and likely for the following 2020 Presidential election.
If indeed the Democrats keep the White House beyond 2016, time and age will turn the Court into a majority Democratic Party appointed Court for sure!
History tells us this fact: If a party keeps control of the White House for an extended period of time, the Court becomes more than ever reflective of that political party.
So, for example, from 1933-1953, we had 20 years of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry Truman in the White House, and a total of 13 Supreme Court appointments, all by these two Democratic Presidents, helping to shape the future Court, with a few “liberal” appointments by Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower (Earl Warren and William Brennan), insuring a continuation of that trend.
But it can be said that from 1953-2013, sixty years of history, the Republicans held the White House for a total of 36 years to the Democrats’ total of 24 years.
In those 60 years, the Republican Presidents made 18 appointments to the Supreme Court, to the Democratic total of just 8 appointments, more than a 2-1 majority. While Republican appointments included Warren, Brennan, Harry Blackmun, John Paul Stevens, Sandra Day O’Connor, and David Souter, all quite liberal appointments, even so it still meant that 12 Republican appointments were quite conservative or VERY conservative, so the Supreme Court represents a strongly Republican flavor.
But now, we have four aging Supreme Court Justices–Ruth Bader Ginsberg (80 this year), Antonin Scalia (77 this year), Anthony Kennedy (77 this year), and Stephen Breyer (75 this year), and to believe that by 2020, that any or all of these members of the Court will be still serving, seems quite unreasonable, as they would be ranging between 82 and 87 by the year 2020!
And Justice Clarence Thomas, although claiming he will stay on the Court for 43 years, until age 86, would be 72 in 2020, and Samuel Alito would 70 in 2020.
No one is saying that either Thomas or Alito will have left the Court, but if the four elderly Justices have left, they would all be Democratic Party appointments if the Democrats keep the White House, highly likely, and that would mean SIX of the nine members of the Court would be Democratic appointments, including Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.
Only Thomas, Alito, and Chief Justice John Roberts would be Republican appointments in the year 2020 under this scenario!
So, for Democrats and Progressives, there is hope for a very different Court over the next decade and beyond!