Court Becomes More Diverse—and Partisan
Flurry of recent appointments make court's political split apparent
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 3, 2010 1:40 PM CDT
Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Elena Kagan gather in the Justices' Conference Room prior to Kagan's Investiture Ceremony, Friday.   (AP)

(Newser) – The Supreme Court that begins its new term tomorrow will be very different than its predecessor. The most striking change may be the presence of three women on the bench, which Ruth Bader Ginsburg thinks will cause a "major" shift in public perception of the court. “When the schoolchildren file in … and they look up and they see three women, then that will seem natural and proper,” she tells the Washington Post, “Just how it is.”

But the court has also become more overtly partisan. David Souter and John Paul Stevens were essentially liberals, but because they were appointed by Republicans, the court’s split was talked about in terms of ideology, not party affiliation. Now that’s changed. “Rarely in the 20th century was there so obviously a partisan and ideological split on the court,” says one scholar. “There will be five appointees by Republicans who are very conservative, or at least moderately conservative, and four Democratic appointees who are liberal or moderate liberals.”