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Politics of the Supreme Court

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 18, 2009

A very interesting infographic of the ideological history of the Supreme Court from 1937 to the present. The color coding on the map is weirdly inaccurate but you can still be general trends pretty well…like how many of the justices changed greatly during their terms. William O. Douglas became slightly more moderate mid-term and then got really liberal while Rehnquist went from very conservative to more moderate as his term went on, especially after he became Chief Justice.

OT: I knew there was a Burger on the bench but was unaware of Justice Frankfurter (1938-1961).

Update: Alex Lundry designed the visualization and got in touch to explain the color coding.

The colors are chosen based upon the Min, Max, and Median of the area we are comparing. So, in the first view, the “overall” view, the darkest Red is anchored to the maximum ideology number across all justices and all terms, the darkest Blue is anchored to the minimum score, and the purest white is anchored to the actual median number (The Location of the Median Justice is NOT necessarily the actual median, as it is calculated via a Bayesian statistical estimate).

The second “compare” option, “within each seat, row” calculates separate color anchors for each row.

Similarly, the third compare option, “within each year, column” calculates separate color anchors for each column.

The Location of Median Justice and Court Average are not included in these calculations and their color values are set to what they would be in the overall comparison.

Update: Burger, Frankfurter, Salmon. (via @kurtw)

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