A Timeline of Supreme Court Nominations

Beyond Donald Trump, Capitol Hill finds itself consumed by the vacancy left by Antonin Scalia. Democrats insist President Obama’s eventual nomination should be considered by the Senate. Senate Republicans rebut saying that a vote should not happen until the next presidential term. That would be the longest, by nearly a factor of three, the Supreme Court has had a vacant seat.

The New York Times put together a graphic article exploring the timeline of Supreme Court nominations: when the seat became vacant; when the successor was nominated; and whether the nominee was accepted or rejected.

Recent history
Recent history

What I really enjoy is the reversed convention of a timeline. I have made timelines myself on a few occasions and placed recent events at the top, as like here, or to the left in a horizontal format. The idea being recent data and history is more relevant than distant historic information. But placing the relevant data at the bottom or far right makes it more difficult to access.

The timeline bit I like also finds itself in the representation of presidential terms, which the designers chose to display as a countdown from four years from left-to-right. That works very well given the narrative.

And it goes without saying that the annotations add invaluable context.

Overall, a very solid piece.

Credit for the piece goes to Gregor Aisch, Josh Keller, K.K. Rebecca Lai, and Karen Yourish.

The Supreme Court’s Recent Liberalism

Last week the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the Affordable Care Act, better known colloquially as Obamacare, and said that the federal tax subsidies are, in fact, constitutional. But, this piece is not so much about that one individual ruling, but rather the surprising trend of the recent Roberts’ court terms to skew liberal instead of the expected conservative. In this Upshot piece from the New York Times, an interactive graphic backs up the article explaining just what has been going on in the Supreme Court.

The court has been conservative for decades
The court has been conservative for decades

Credit for the piece goes to Alicia Parlapiano, Adam Liptak, and Jeremy Bowers.

Potential Voting Rights Act Impacts

Last Thursday we looked at the impact of potential outcomes by an expected Supreme Court ruling on two gar marriage cases. (We’re still waiting, probably until this Thursday, though it could be today.) Today, we look at the impact of potential outcomes of another big case before the Court, the Voting Rights Act. Broadly (and quickly), Shelby County, Alabama is challenging the federal government, which according to the act, must approve any changes to electoral law in those places that have had problems in their history of disenfranchising black citizens (and more recently non-English speaking citizens, i.e. Hispanics). The act was renewed for 25 years by President Bush back in 2006.

The New York Times explains through interactive maps first the geographic scope of this federal approval. As one might expect, it significantly impacts southern states. But the rules used to determine that coverage are decades old.

Current coverage
Current coverage

But if the current process must change, several different metrics by which alternative coverage could be determined would offer different coverage. The New York Times allows user to see those different metrics, and then adjust filters to fine tune those areas covered. A nice feature for all of these views is the ability to show/hide those areas under the current coverage.

Using prejudice to define coverage
Using prejudice to define coverage

Credit for the piece goes to the New York Times graphics department.

Gay Marriage Ruling Outcomes

The Supreme Court issues its rulings usually on, if I recall, Mondays and Thursday. And you know what today is, right? One of the last Thursday sessions of the current sitting. So…if not this week then next week the Supreme Court will (likely) rule on several big, hairy, tangly cases. One of those issues, but two of the cases, is same sex marriage. Specifically, a ruling on California’s Proposition 8 and another on the Defence of Marriage Act.

Thankfully, the Washington Post has a great interactive piece that attempts to simplify and explain just how the possible rulings on each of the two cases would impact same sex marriages in all fifty states. Click around and read the explanations to see just how complicated the cases are, especially Prop 8.

Just one of the different outcomes
Just one of the different outcomes

Credit for the piece goes to Masuma Ahuja, Robert Barnes, and Emily Chow.