Justices Roberts and Kavanaugh Side With SCOTUS Majority More Often

Justices Roberts and Kavanaugh Side With SCOTUS Majority More Often Kavanaugh and Roberts Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, right, and Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh, left, arrive before President Donald Trump delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Feb. 4, 2020. (Leah Millis/AP)

By Peter Malbin | Wednesday, 13 July 2022 11:39 AM EDT

While it is common wisdom that the current Supreme Court has a 6-3 conservative makeup, Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh sided with the majority in most of the Supreme Court cases this past term.

In doing so, they also granted a handful of victories to liberal justices by joining them in several key decisions over the past term, The Washington Examiner observed.

Roberts and Kavanaugh were responsible for more than half of the cases in which the court's liberal justices were victorious. There were 10 cases with 5-4 decisions, with seven of those decided in the liberals' favor, according to The Washington Examiner.

These cases included granting President Joe Biden's bid to eliminate a Trump-era immigration policy and defending COVID-19 vaccine requirements for healthcare workers.

When the court's liberal bloc, Associate Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and recently retired Stephen Breyer. prevailed in cases this past term, they were most often aided by the more centrist Roberts and Kavanaugh, as opposed to the conservative Justices Samuel Alito, Amy Coney Barrett, Clarence Thomas, and Neil Gorsuch.

The voting pattern of Kavanaugh and Roberts has been "consistent" since Kavanaugh joined the court in 2018, according to Dr. Adam Feldman, founder of the Supreme Court blog Empirical SCOTUS and principal for the legal data consulting firm Optimized Legal.

Kavanaugh was appointed by former President Donald Trump after contentious confirmation hearings. He played a pivotal role last month in overturning the 1992 case Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

But Justice Roberts, who was appointed by former President George W. Bush, upset some hardline conservatives over two separate instances in which he upheld former President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act in 2012 and 2015 cases.

After Justice Anthony Kennedy retired from the Supreme Court in 2017 there hasn't been a swing voter, although Roberts sometimes played that role, according to Feldman.

He said it's too early to tell whether Kavanaugh and Roberts are the new center, but they have been the majority makers.

"I don't think this necessarily means that they're going to be the swing justices as much as they're just going to be in the majority more often," Feldman said.