Fantasy SCOTUS

FantasySCOTUS: What Do Liberals, Conservatives, Moderates, and Libertarians Think of the SCOTUS Short List?

Who will replace Justice John Paul Stevens? While pundits, savants, and oracles across the SCOTUSphere pontificate and read Article III tea leaves, conducted extensive and detailed polling to predict the next Justice. We have invited our nearly 5,000 members –- who represent some of the closest and most ardent Court watchers -– to weigh in on the vacancy, rank the candidates on the short list, and give their views on the potential

This is the second in a series of posts breaking down this data, as we attempt to add some certainty to the vast amounts of uncertainty emanating from the penumbras of the
upcoming vacancy.

Are Elena Kagan’s liberal bona fides established, or would Diane Wood be the better progressive pick? Glenn Greenwald, among others on the left, have written sharply that Kagan is not a proper progressive pick. Others on the left have rushed to Kagan’s defense, and Greenwald has replied in kind.

In this installment, we break down the picks based on self-identified ideologies: liberals, moderates, conservatives, and libertarians…

Because these brackets are often difficult to define, we also polled the voter’s favorability ratings of the two most recently appointed Justices, Justice Sotomayor and Justice Alito.

For each ideology, this table lists the top pick, along with percentage making that prediction, the correlating opinion scores for Justices Sotomayor and Alito (from -10 to 10), and the top three ranked candidates, with the candidate’s score in parenthesis.

Moderates, once again, place Kagan as the top pick, with 56% of the vote. Moderates mostly have positive opinions of the possible nominees, with both Garland and Kagan rating higher than Sotomayor.

Garland takes the lead with a 2.89 rating, followed by Kagan with a 2.75, and then finally Wood with 1.61. One important takeaway from the moderates is that a slightly higher opinion of a candidate may not make much of a difference in how the user predicts the likelihood of nomination.

Among libertarians, Kagan holds a plurality as the top pick at 40%. However, the other top picks are spread among the other candidates. Libertarians have a neutral opinion of Kagan, which is only slightly lower than their opinion of Sotomayor. Garland has the second highest rating of -0.55, followed by Sunstein at -0.7. Perhaps his work on libertarian paternalism with Richard Thaler lends him more support among libertarians. Overall, Kagan is still predicted most likely to get the nod, but Sunstein being third in opinion was interesting.

How do the candidates rank among liberals and conservatives? Is Glenn Greenwald right? Is Kagan appealing to liberals? See the results at

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