Three economists from Australia and the United Kingdom just published an intriguing paper, implying that Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch could have an effect on the rest of the justices.

The New York Times put it this way: “[I]t means that whoever is seated in the vacant Supreme Court seat will influence the decisions made by other Supreme Court justices, just as the new nominee will be influenced by existing eight judges.”

According to the researchers, when a left-leaning justice isn’t there, the Court will be more likely to vote conservative—and vice versa. So since Justice Antonin Scalia has passed away, by their logic, the Court has been voting more liberal than usual. Hence, if Gorsuch is confirmed, the Court will have a conservative influence again.

But the researchers were able to estimate some shocking numbers: Gorsuch could influence each justice to vote conservative 5% more often than if a left-leaning judge was confirmed.

This is huge, but I still have a hard time believing this as hard fact. How can we know how people will vote? Also, I wonder how this will influence how our representatives will vote on Gorsuch. If this study becomes big, will liberal senators be even less likely to confirm him?

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