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Supreme Court releases trio of rulings with liberal justices joining majority opinions


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The Washington Examiner

Kaelan Deese, Supreme Court Reporter
February 22, 2023

The Supreme Court released three opinions Wednesday in cases argued earlier this term, in which each case saw the three-member liberal minority joining the majority opinion in each decision.

Justice Amy Coney Barrett, one of six Republican-appointed justices on the conservative-majority court, authored a 9-0 unanimous decision in a bankruptcy case known as Bartenwerfer v. Buckley. The decision was followed by a 6-3 opinion authored by liberal Justice Elena Kagan in a labor dispute known as Helix Energy Solutions Group v. Hewitt, followed by a 5-4 decision by liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor favoring a death row inmate in Cruz v. Arizona.


Although the three decisions included liberal justices in the majority opinions, none of the cases surrounding hot-button and polarizing topics argued this term, such as a pending ruling over the fate of affirmative action or whether a Christian web designer can decline her services to same-sex couples seeking a custom wedding webpage.

The 6-3 Republican-appointed majority is still wielding more power over the three liberal members, as last term saw Justice Samuel Alito author 21% of the opinions in ideologically polarized cases, with Roberts and Thomas authoring 29%, respectively, under the same criteria, according to data from SCOTUSBlog. Additionally, Alito was in the majority in 78% of divided cases last term, up from 58% of divided cases two years ago.

Notably, Roberts and Kavanaugh, appointed by Republican presidents, joined at least one liberal in the majority in seven out of the 10 opinions last term that were 5-4 decisions, according to data from the widely cited Supreme Court blog Empirical SCOTUS.

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