BUSH-APPOINTED JUDGES MOST CONSERVATIVE
ON RECORD, NEW UH STUDY FINDS
Lead Investigator Robert Carp Says Slant Most Evident in Civil Rights,
HOUSTON, Feb. 6, 2006 – Judges appointed by President George
W. Bush are the most conservative on record when it comes to civil
rights and liberties, according to a new study by a political science
professor at the University of Houston.
Bush judicial appointees are significantly more conservative than
even the very conservative voting record of jurists appointed by
Presidents Ronald Reagan and Bush Sr. in the realm of civil rights
and liberties, said Robert Carp, professor of political science
at UH. When it comes to these decisions, the Bush team is a full
5 percentage points more conservative than even the trial judges
appointed by Presidents Reagan and Bush Sr.
“Liberal” judges would generally seek in their rulings
to extend the freedoms of abortion, gay rights, the rights of women
and minorities and freedom of speech, Carp explained. “Conservative”
jurists, by contrast, would prefer to limit such rights.
In a previous study that was released in August 2004, Carp and
his team of researchers predicted that if Bush was re-elected that
year, the federal judiciary could take on an even sharper conservative
slant. At the time, Bush’s judicial appointees delivered liberal
decisions 27.9 percent of the time in cases involving civil liberties
and rights. For this latest study, researchers analyzed more data,
and the figure has dropped to 27.2 percent.
“Our findings are significant because the general consensus
is that President Reagan is the most modern conservative president
on record, and yet the judges appointed by George W. Bush are even
more conservative than the Reagan judges,” said Carp, the
study’s lead investigator.
The new study, “The Voting Behavior of George W. Bush’s
Judges: How Sharp a Turn to the Right?,” also found that only
33 percent of decisions handed down by Bush jurists were liberal.
Presidents Johnson, Carter, and Clinton, scored 52, 51, and 44 percent,
respectively. His GOP predecessors, Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Bush
Sr., ranked 38, 43, 36, and 37 percent, respectively. The overall
scores of the Bush judges are not “off the charts” in
their level of conservatism, but they are sharply right of center.
“As the Supreme Court becomes somewhat more conservative
with the appointment of Justice Alito and as more Bush judges are
appointed to the policy-making appellate courts, the overall tone
of the judiciary should be more conservative three years from now
than it is today,” he speculated.
Carp’s research also found that the minorities and women
whom Bush has appointed to the bench are somewhat more liberal in
their voting patterns than the white males he has appointed to the
In the earlier study, the voting record of the Bush judges in the
area of Labor and Economic regulation was fairly moderate. The latest
study that relies on a larger data set indicates that the Bush judges
are very conservative in this issue area as well and could not be
called “moderate” in their voting behavior.
The data on trial court decisions were taken from a database consisting
of more than 75,0000 opinions published in the Federal Supplement
by almost 1,800 judges from 1933 through the fall of 2005. Included
in this overall data set were 795 decisions handed down by judges
appointed by President George W. Bush.
The research findings appear in a chapter of the book “Principles
and Practice of American Politics: Classic and Contemporary Readings,
Third Edition” (forthcoming, July 2006) published by CQ Press.
Analysis was conducted by Carp and political scientists Kenneth
L. Manning, University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, and Ronald Stidham,
Appalachian State University.
CQ Press, a division of Congressional Quarterly Inc., is a private,
independent publishing firm based in Washington, D.C., that produces
college and reference works on government and politics.
For more information about the book, contact James Headley at firstname.lastname@example.org
or visit www.cqpress.com.
About the University of Houston
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