Supreme Court vs. America?

Leaving aside Kavanaugh uncertainty for the moment, this Brownstein take is spot-on:

If the Senate confirms Kavanaugh, which still appears likely despite sharpening Democratic questions about his honesty, he will cement a five-member majority of Republican-appointed justices. Given their ages, those five justices could control the Supreme Court for the next 15 years or more. Over that period, demographers project, the nation inexorably will grow more diverse in virtually every measurable way, from religious preference to sexual orientation and racial and ethnic composition.
That looks like a surefire formula for heightening conflict. Each of the Republican-appointed justices has demonstrated resistance to measures designed to protect or promote the interests of groups that often have been marginalized in American history, from racial minorities to gays and lesbians. And like a tightening tourniquet, the tension is likely to grow between the opposition of the Republican-appointed justices to laws that they feel unduly disadvantage whites and religiously devout Christians, and the calls from those growing minority groups for greater opportunity and inclusion…

But each also pointedly questioned Kavanaugh over his views on a range of questions relating to race, gender and sexual orientation, from affirmative action in employment and higher education to workplace protections for gays and lesbians. In the process, they underscored all the issues that could grow more volatile as the distance widens between a Republican-majority court and a Democratic coalition increasingly centered on the nation’s growing diversity…
The oldest of the five Republican-appointed justices are Clarence Thomas, 70, and Samuel Alito, 68. With justices now often remaining on the court into advanced age (Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 85 and Kennedy retired just before he turned 82), each man could conceivably serve until around 2035. At that point, Chief Justice John Roberts would be 80, while Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s other appointee, would be 68 and Kavanaugh would be 70. All five are men; all but Thomas is white. All are Christian and are or were raised Catholic.
“If this coalition is as far to the right as expected and lasts for that length of time … then we should have something quite unique,” Adam Feldman, the founder of the Empirical SCOTUS blog, which studies Supreme Court trends, wrote in an email.
Over the many years that same majority could control the court, demographers project the nation will profoundly change around them. The Census Bureau forecasts that the white share of America’s population will steadily decline from about 60 percent now to 54% in 2035, en route to falling below 50 percent in 2045, for the first time in US history. The change will be especially rapid among the young: the Census Bureau projects that the white share will fall below 50% for the under-18 population as soon as 2020, and for the 18-to-34 population shortly before 2030.
Much greater religious diversity is approaching as well. White Christians represented a majority of the population for most of American history, but they have fallen to only about 2-in-5 today…
These exchanges map the terrain of the likely conflicts ahead. If confirmed, Kavanaugh will lock in a Supreme Court majority chosen by Republicans elected primarily by the groups that have long dominated American society but are now shrinking: whites and Christians. That court majority looms as a possible seawall against a rising tide of demands for inclusion among the minority groups growing in size. Even last week’s Judiciary Committee skirmishing may seem muted as those waves crash against the court for many years to come. [emphasis mine]
And, that’s even leaving aside that these several of these Justices will have been appointed by popular-vote losers of the presidential election and confirmed by Senators representing much less than half the American people.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

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