Nate Silver notes that according to one measure, the current Supreme Court may be the most conservative in the modern era.
“Mr. Martin and Mr. Quinn rate the current court (based on data up through late 2010) as the most conservative in their database based on the positioning of the median justice, the previous high having come in the early 1950s. Although Justice Kennedy is not extraordinarily conservative relative to all other justices who have served on the court, he is very conservative by the standards of the median justice, who has typically been more of a true moderate.”
“The Martin-Quinn method suggests that there has been some overall rightward drift among almost all members of the court, including the more liberal justices, since Chief Justice Roberts took over for Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist. Although Chief Justice Roberts is not especially more conservative than Chief Justice Rehnquist under their system, chief justices can sometimes exert an overall pull on the court based on the way they manage it, and this may be one of those cases.”