Every judge claims impartiality, that he or she renders decisions based on the facts in the cast at hand, but Supreme Court justices are in a particular spotlight, both today and in terms of their historical legacy.
Justice Anthony Kennedy is the resident swing vote on the Supreme Court, a role he seems to relish. Rick Hasen, professor of law at the University of California, Irvine and author of the Election Law Blog, argues that the justices’ legacy may have more to do with their decision-making than most Americans realize. He says that the legacy question may sway Justice Kennedy to the left on the same-sex marriage cases before the court this week.
Supreme Court watchers, Hasen writes, "often use amateur psychoanalysis of the justices."
"For example," he continues, "a chief justice, feeling constrained by public opinion or concerned about the court's legacy, may give in on one case in order to gain more political capital to spend on another controversial case."
Our Washington correspondent, Todd Zwillich, is filling in as host all this week. Follow Todd on Twitter for the latest from Capitol Hill.