There are two ways to think about the change. One is to compare Judge Garland, President Obama’s nominee, with Justice Scalia. The second is to think about how Mr. Garland might shift the court’s balance of power. His addition would make the justice at the center of the court more liberal than at any point in nearly 50 years.
In recent years, many justices have timed their retirements to ensure that their successors would be picked by a president who shares their political and judicial values. But Justice Scalia, the court’s third-most conservative justice by a widely accepted measure, is far across the ideological spectrum from President Obama’s previous two selections for the court.
We don’t yet know exactly how Mr. Garland would vote if he joined the court. But scholars believe that he will be substantially more liberal than Justice Scalia was. According to a ranking of Supreme Court and appeals court judges, Mr. Garland is expected to be ideologically similar to Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, President Obama’s previous picks for the court.
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