Joshua Groban, Gov. Jerry Brown's final appointment to the California Supreme Court, was confirmed by the Commission on Judicial Appointments on Dec. 21, 2018. We wondered how he will fit in with the existing justices. To figure that out, we established a baseline for comparison by analyzing 300 cases decided by the court's existing members since January 2015.
The takeaways are startling. The justices' ideological reputations are not the critical factor in their opinions and votes, and in fact ideological labels like liberal or conservative are only weakly applicable to the individual justices. While those are subjective terms, regardless how one reads them they neither accurately describe the justices nor predict their votes. And the justices do not vote in blocs; instead, the court is strongly consensus driven.