The “Stench” of Politics: Polarization and Worldview on the Supreme Court, Joseph Russomanno

Reviewed by Richard L. Hasen

After the disputed 2000 election that culminated in the Supreme Court’s opinion in Bush v. Gore, all of the Florida ballots—complete with their hanging chads—were sent off to the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago for yet another recount. Despite the fact that the election was long over and George W. Bush was installed as President, clerks hired by NORC to count still differed in results on disputed ballots: “Republican counters were 4 percent more likely than Democratic counters to deny a mark was for Gore. Even more striking, Democratic counters were 25 percent more likely to deny a mark was for Bush” (Einer Elhauge, "Florida 2000: Bush Wins Again," Weekly Standard, November 26, 2001 [29],

I thought of this potential for motivated reasoning even when one has the best of intentions as I read Joseph Russomanno’s new book on recent conservative decisions of the Supreme Court. Many of the points made by the author are unassailable: in the last few years, the Court has moved far to the right in its constitutional decisions, including in high-stakes cases involving guns, abortion, voting rights, and religious liberties; the Court’s move to the right accelerated once there was a six-Justice Republican-appointed supermajority on the Court; the c

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