UK’s The Telegraph created lists of the 100 most influential conservatives and the most influential liberals leading into the 2008 elections. John Roberts made number #8 on the conservative list, Antonin Scalia came in at #62, and Clarence Thomas came in at #85. John Paul Stevens, despite claiming to be a conservative, came in at #64 on the liberal list.
I’m surprised to see Clarence Thomas on the list and Anthony Kennedy and Ruth Bader Ginsburg left off. From my perspective, Thomas is an important figure in the conservative movement but he can’t hold a candle to the heavy influence that Anthony Kennedy holds over the entire Court. He is being wooed at every stage of the litigation process, from the writing of petitions for certiorari to the opinion-writing process. Lawyers want to persuade him to vote with them and his colleagues want to barter with him for votes on their side. He has single handedly given the conservative wing of the Court almost free reign to roll back the clock on important facets of precedent.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, on the other hand, is evolving as a powerful dissenter for the liberal wing. Her stirring dissents on topics like equal protection and women’s rights have been cause célèbre for liberal activists, lobbyist, and legislators around the country. If the liberals have any hope of making progress before they can get a clear majority on the Court, Justice Ginsburg is going to have to be on her A-game.
(via Eminent Domain)