Squares are proportional to the percent of time that Republican-Republican,
Democrat-Democrat, and mixed Republican-Democrat justice pairs voted together. Justices are sorted in decreasing perception of conservativeness, as measured by the Segal-Cover score.
Individual Rights aggregate: Criminal Procedure, Civil Rights, First Amendment, Privacy, and Due Process.
Economic/Judicial aggregate: Federalism, Interstate Relations, Federal Taxation, Judicial Power, Economic Activity, Attorneys.
Individual Rights vs. Economic/Judicial Case Issues
The most disagreement occurs over matters involving individual rights, with less disagreement over economic or judicial matters. Play the video or drag the slider to see how the Court has changed year-to-year.
Note that lines of full sized boxes likely reflect a small sample size causing a perfect agreement rate.
Supreme Court Tidbits
Two of Eisenhower's appointees, Chief Justice Earl Warren and Justice William Brennan, were integral members of a Court that led a wave of liberal decisions that attacked racial segregation and expanded individual rights against government searches. Eisenhower called his appointments the "biggest damn fool mistake I ever made" and said that they were two of his biggest presidential mistakes. Check out this story for more.
Watch Nixon appointee, Harry Blackmun in the individual rights video. Best known as the author of Roe v. Wade (1973) decision, Blackmun started his appointment voting closely with the best man at his wedding, Chief Justice Burger, but drifted and frequently voted with liberal Justices Brennan and Marshall in his later years.
More on the split here.
In a tribute to Thurgood Marshall, a former clerk notes that Marshall once described his judicial philosophy as "You do what you think is right and let the law catch up."
William Douglas missed most of the 1949 term after he was thrown off a horse and broke 13 ribs. Later that year, he was also kicked by a horse.
Clarence Thomas doesn't believe in stare decis, ie following legal precedent. For more on his eccentric judicial philosophy, check out this NYTimes piece.