When will the U.S. Supreme Court stop having a conservative majority?
18
116
1.2k
2071
7%
By 2028
22%
2029-2035
17%
2036-2040
14%
2041-2045
7%
2046-2050
4%
2051-2055
4%
2056-2060
8%
2061-2065
8%
2066-2070
9%
After 2070 (or never)

Conservatives currently have a 6-3 majority.

  • A majority is defined as a ratio of at least 5-4 conservative-liberal justices on the bench (or the minimum majority ratio if the total number of justices changes). If the number of justice stays the same (9), conservatives would need to have 4 or less justices to lose their majority.

  • The conservative/liberal distinction is normally well established.

    • In doubt, conservatives are those that are nominated by a Republican administration; liberals by a Democratic administration. That is, absent unequivocal public recognition of a justice as conservative or liberal, its appointment by a conservative or liberal administration will be treated as dispositive.

    • Let us fix the meaning of ‘conservative’ to refer to right-of-center justices while they serve their appointment. Thus, if the cultural meaning of ‘conservative’ changes, the terms of the question can be revised to stay true to its intended meaning (i.e. when will SCOTUS lose its right-wing majority?). It doesn’t matter if the GOP/Democratic party valence changes, the relevant distinction is conservative (right) vs. liberal (left) as they have been understood in the US throughout much of the 20th century and all of the 21st century so far.

    • If a justice is appointed by an Independent president, they do not count toward the majority unless they identify as conservative or are clearly considered as conservative by legal experts. So-called 'swing' justices (e.g. Kennedy; sometimes, Roberts) inherit the affiliation of their appointing administration.

  • This question resolves as soon as the majority changes (when conservatives no longer have a majority).

  • If the court ceases to exist as a recognizable institution (under this or a different name but performing the same function in the legal system) before the majority changes, this question resolves to 'After 2070 (or never)'. For any other option to resolve YES, the court has to exist and its majority has to be non-conservative.

    • Suppose the United States or the court ceases to exist in their current recognizable form. In that case, I expect this fact to be both widely recognized and sufficient to meet the condition for resolving the last option.

I will have retired long before this market can resolve. I have tried to make the resolution as unambiguous as possible so that any moderator can do it. Please suggest any amendments or clarifications that could help.

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Amendmend/clarification questions:

What is the reference class for "conservative"? Is it 2024 American legal experts, or American legal experts at the time the justices are in office, or American legal experts at market close?

Intuitively I would say the legal experts at the time, but it seems worth double-checking.

Also, which cultural meaning of "conservative" are we using? Is it a 2024 meaning, whatever meaning "conservative" has at the time the justices are in office, or the meaning of "conservative" at market close?

This seems harder, and it's actually separate from reference class. In 2024 terms I would say that "conservative" means "right of center" more than any specific set of policies. However, as language drifts and politicians either claim the word or try to distance themselves from it, it could become narrower or wider in meaning.

Also, the behavior of parties that are not Democrats or Republicans is not defined. Do the rules for Independents apply to them too?

Also, does the party name supercede the opinions of legal experts?

For example, in the late 19th century, Democrats were (considered by legal experts to be) more conservative than Republicans. If a similar inversion happened before market close, would Democrat-elected justices from then on count towards "conservative" or "liberal"?

Also, what if "the US supreme court" is ambiguous? Some examples: What if the US is replaced with a nation that does not declare legal continuity with its predecessor, like Turkey replacing the Ottoman Empire, and that nation has a supreme court? What if a US government with de-jure legal continuity remains in control of a rump territory while the rest of the former US' territories unite, like the Republic of China?

What if a US government with de-jure legal continuity is a government in exile, like the Republic of Afghanistan? What if different justices and legal experts take different sides in the matter of legal status of "the US" or "the US supreme court"? What if the US executive recognizes another court as more supreme (e.g. an international court)?

@dph121 Thanks. Some of your questions are already answered in the description. For instance:

a justice is appointed by an Independent president, they do not count toward the majority unless they identify as conservative or are clearly considered as conservative by legal experts.

But otherwise good questions. How about?

  • Let us fix the meaning of ‘conservative’ to refer to right-of-center justices while they serve their appointment. That way, if the cultural meaning of ‘conservative’ changes, the question can be revised to stay true to its intended meaning. It doesn’t matter if the GOP/Democratic party valence changes, the conservative/liberal distinction will remain clear, especially if we fix it by reference to a right-left spectrum.

  • SCOTUS refers to a very specific legal institution. If either the United States or the court cease to exist in their current recognizable form, I expect this fact to be both widely recognized and sufficient to meet the condition for resolving the last option.

I will update the description accordingly.

@NicoDelon Those last two points sound good.

However, there is a difference between Independent and Third Party. Independent means that the candidate is not associated with any political party, while third party means that the candidate is associated with a political party other than the main two (Democrats and Republicans). Samuel Nelson, for example, was appointed by the Whig president John Tyler, meaning that he was appointed by neither a Democrat, Republican, or Independent president. So the quoted text does not apply to him.

What happens to this market if the U.S. Supreme Court is dissolved before that happens?

@Quirk It should resolve to 'After 2070 (or never)'.

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