Associated Press

The Supreme Court is on a liberal streak. After upholding Obamacare and legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide, the Court shifted away from conservative rulings.

But Republicans got their share of victories in the following cases when the Court upheld the use of a lethal injection chemical and struck down President Obama’s pollution regulations on power plants.

Just how liberal—or conservative—is the current Supreme Court?

Using data from Segal and Cover, InsideGov ranked the most liberal Supreme Court justices of the modern era (FDR to Obama). Justices are scored on a scale of 0 to 100, where 0 represents most conservative and 100 is most liberal. Only one of the current justices made the top ten.

*Note: Segal and Cover measure the “perceived” ideology of each justice by analyzing pre-confirmation newspaper editorials regarding the nominations.

Felix Frankfurter

Justice Felix Frankfurter | InsideGov

Score: 66

With the exception of George Washington, FDR appointed more SCOTUS justices than any other president in U.S. history. Frankfurter was one of the eight Roosevelt appointees.

In his time as justice, Frankfurter argued for judicial restraint in the Court, preferring stronger legislative and executive branches instead.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg | InsideGov

Score: 68

At 82 years old, Ruth Bader Ginsburg is currently the oldest Supreme Court justice. She is known for her especially liberal views on gender equality and women’s rights. Ginsburg is one of the most consistently liberal justices on the Court today.

Sherman Minton

Justice Sherman Minton | InsideGov

Score: 72-tie

Given his liberal track record as a senator, Justice Minton surprised policymakers with a series of conservative rulings in the Court. Minton voted against Roosevelt’s New Deal on several occasions and upheld anti-Communist legislation.

When it came to racial segregation, though, Minton was staunchly liberal and supported the decision to end school segregation in Brown v. Board of Education (1954).

Stanley F. Reed

Justice Stanley F. Reed | InsideGov

Score: 72-tie

Another Roosevelt appointee, Reed turned out to be more moderate than initially expected. In fact, during his 19 years as justice, Reed was often the deciding swing-vote.

In general, he held liberal views on civil liberties and economic issues but conservative views on national security and free speech.

Elena Kagan

Justice Elena Kagan | InsideGov

Score: 73-tie

Kagan is the most recent justice to be appointed to the Court. After President Obama announced her nomination in 2010, Democrats feared she was too moderate, arguing that she might strengthen the conservative bloc.

Justice Kagan quickly proved them wrong. Throughout her four years on the job, she has been one of the most consistently liberal voices on the Court.

William Orville Douglas

Justice William Orville Douglas | InsideGov

Score: 73-tie

Douglas served as justice for 36 years—the longest term in the history of the Supreme Court. Justice Douglas held especially liberal views on environmental issues and freedom of speech.

Although he generally supported individual rights, Douglas voted to uphold the forced internment of Japanese-Americans during WWII in Korematsu v. United States (1944).

Arthur J. Goldberg

Justice Arthur J. Goldberg | InsideGov

Score: 75-tie

Arthur Goldberg served on the Supreme Court for less than three years—one of the shortest terms ever. Nevertheless, Goldberg wrote several important opinions for the Court.

Although he was in the minority, Goldberg strongly opposed the death penalty, arguing that it was cruel and unusual punishment.

Potter Stewart

Justice Potter Stewart | InsideGov

Score: 75-tie

President Eisenhower surprised fellow conservatives when he nominated Stewart to the Court. Despite being perceived as a liberal, Stewart proved to be one of the more centrist justices on the Court and was often an important swing-vote.

Earl Warren

Justice Earl Warren | InsideGov

Score: 75-tie

Chief Justice Warren believed that the Supreme Court should hold as much power as the executive and legislative branches of government. The Warren Court presided over several landmark decisions including Brown v. Board of Education (1954) and Miranda v. Arizona (1966).

Fred Vinson

Justice Fred Vinson | InsideGov

Score: 75-tie

Remarkably, Chief Justice Vinson presided over an entirely Democratic Supreme Court. All of the justices were either Roosevelt or Truman appointees.

Nevertheless, the justices still found ways to disagree, particularly over the execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. Vinson leaned more conservative on this issue, voting to ensure the Rosenbergs would be executed.

Sonia Sotomayor

Justice Sonia Sotomayor | InsideGov

Score: 78

President Obama’s nomination of Sotomayor—the first justice of Hispanic heritage— was widely praised by Democrats.

Justice Sotomayor has consistently supported the Court’s liberal bloc. Moreover, she is particularly liberal on issues of race, gender and ethnic identity.

John Marshall Harlan II

Justice John Marshall Harlan II | InsideGov

Score: 87-tie

The grandson of a Supreme Court justice, Harlan surprised the public with his increasingly conservative views toward the end of his term. During the liberal Warren Court, Harlan became one of the primary dissenters, favoring a more conservative stance on criminal procedure and economic issues.

Thurgood Marshall

Justice Thurgood Marshall | InsideGov

Score: 87-tie

Thurgood Marshall made history as the first African-American Supreme Court justice. He was also one of the most liberal justices in the Court’s history. Marshall embraced judicial activism and strongly supported individual rights. He was also opposed to the death penalty.

Abe Fortas

Justice Abe Fortas | InsideGov

Score: 100-tie

Of the five justices who tie for most liberal, Fortas had the shortest tenure. Serving for just four years, Fortas resigned from the Court after an ethics scandal. After his resignation, Fortas resumed his private law practice, returning to argue before the Supreme Court on several occasions.

William J. Brennan Jr.

Justice William J. Brennan Jr. | InsideGov

Score: 100-tie

During his 33-year term, Brennan was one of the leaders of the Court’s liberal bloc. He opposed the death penalty and supported abortion rights. In 1993, President Clinton awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his service to the country.

Wiley B. Rutledge

Justice Wiley B. Rutledge | InsideGov

Score: 100-tie

Throughout his Supreme Court term, Rutledge was a strong ally of FDR, voting to uphold the main principles of the New Deal. Rutledge also opposed the idea of judicial restraint, instead favoring a more active role for the Court.

Robert H. Jackson

Justice Robert H. Jackson | InsideGov

Score: 100-tie

Another Roosevelt appointee, Jackson championed individual rights during his time on the Court. As an outspoken justice, Jackson frequently butted heads with the more conservative members on the Court. His public feud with Justice Hugo Black was particularly bitter.

Francis (Frank) Murphy

Justice Francis (Frank) William Murphy | InsideGov

Score: 100-tie

Murphy is the third Roosevelt-appointed justice to tie for most liberal. Along with Justices Rutledge and Douglas, Murphy made up the liberal “axis.”

Like his peers, Murphy favored a strong and active Court. In his famous dissent from Korematsu v. United States (1944), Murphy argued that the decision to forcefully intern Japanese-Americans amounted to legalized racism.

Compare SCOTUS Justices On InsideGov

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