‘They’re playing the long game’: Legal experts warn post-Trump Supreme Court ‘laying foundations’ for right-wing turn
Kavanaugh faced an allegation that he assaulted a woman when they were teenagers. (AFP/File / SAUL LOEB)

The U.S. Supreme Court that Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell rigged in their favor did not veer quite as far to the right in this past term as some feared, but legal experts cautioned that they're "laying foundations" for a more conservative future.

The twice-impeached one-term president managed to ram through a third justice weeks before losing the Nov. 3 election, but analysts were somewhat surprised by the number of unanimous rulings and the decisions on the Affordable Care Act and a few other cases, reported The Guardian.

"I think we at the ACLU can to some degree breathe a sigh of relief," said David Cole, national legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union. "It's nowhere near as bad as people thought."

The ACLU scored a win before the court in the case of a high school cheerleader who was booted from her squad after a profane post on social media, but some observers think that Trump's picks -- all younger than 60 -- could have decades of conservative rulings ahead of them.

"I think they are playing a long game," said Aziz Huq, a law professor at the University of Chicago. "In the long game, laying foundations and moving incrementally often pays off."

The 6-3 conservative majority effectively rewrote the Voting Rights Act to give states broad authority to block access to the ballot, and another ruling that shredded a California law allowing unions to organize laborers on farms that could set a precedent for future attacks on civil rights laws.

"This is something that could unravel much anti-discrimination law enacted by both national and state governments since the 1960s," Huq said. "This ruling may look limited, but it is extremely fragile and could break down in future cases."

The court also signaled to religious conservatives that they'll look favorably on cases objecting to protections for LGBTQ people.

"What's clear from the term is that the court is unquestionably conservative," said Elizabeth Wydra, president of the progressive Constitutional Accountability Center. "There have been some instances of consensus, but to me they are one-offs rather than an indication that this is a more moderate court."

The trend is clear, according to Huq.

"This is one of the most conservative supreme courts that the US has ever seen," he said.