Legal experts wary of court’s ‘emboldened’ right-wing majority: ‘They no longer need to compromise’
Clarence Thomas (Saul Loeb:AFP)

The U.S. Supreme Court embarks on a historically consequential term with a newly emboldened right-wing majority that can override the influence of Chief Justice John Roberts.

The conservative chief justice now finds himself with five justices to his right, and the less patient justices among them -- Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch -- have the power to run past Roberts to undo some entrenched constitutional doctrine, wrote Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus.

“The difference between six and five is exponential,” said Mike Davis, president of the conservative Article III Project. “With five justices to the chief’s right, they no longer need to compromise with the chief to win, and this means it is much more likely that the court is going to get to the conservative result most of the time."

But even conservative legal experts believe the new six-justice majority is much further to the right than many realize.

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“I dislike the fact that journalists refer to the six as conservative,” said Harvard Law School professor Charles Fried, a former solicitor general under Ronald Reagan. “They’re not. They’re reactionaries. That’s the only correct term for them.”

They're the product of a generation-long project by the Federalist Society and other conservative activists to stack the high court with a right-wing majority.

“It’s not like it was this moderate court and Trump made it conservative,” said Elizabeth Wydra, president of the progressive Constitutional Accountability Center. “It was a conservative court and Trump made it extremely conservative.”