Throughout recorded history, calendars have profoundly impacted the development of human society. They allowed us to mark the rain or flood seasons to prepare for planting or reaping crops along the banks of rivers like the Nile. Calendars allowed us to account for the seasons and create the mythologies around them. We also have calendars for lunar cycles and other celestial objects.

But the calendar looking to impact human history last week was this one:

But what was really happening on those dates…
But what was really happening on those dates…

That is the calendar of Brett Kavanaugh, nominee for the US Supreme Court. First, I find it remarkable that someone kept a calendar from 1982. Secondly, we are using this to corroborate or prove false allegations of sexual assault by said nominee.

The New York Times had this on their front page of Thursday’s print edition. And it did a great job of focusing the reader’s attention on arguably the most important story of the day.

As some of you are probably aware, the Senate Judiciary Committee, who must first vote on a Supreme Court nominee, interviewed one of the accusers. Republicans were forced to admit she is credible enough of a witness that instead of being confirming Kavanaugh, he is now being reinvestigated to see if these allegations are true.

Credit for the piece goes to Brett Kavanaugh.

Kavanaugh’s Fading in Competitive House Seats

Another day, another allegation of sexual misconduct against Brett Kavanaugh. We are presently at two and are expecting a third tomorrow. But the question is, will these allegations sink his nomination? Probably not. But could that confirmation hurt Republicans in the mid-terms? Possibly.

The New York Times posted an article about how Kavanaugh’s support in battleground congressional districts is slipping. To be fair, the chart is simple, but it does its job. And usually that’s all we want a chart to do.

Just a few points can make all the difference…
Just a few points can make all the difference…

Me the person interested in politics, however, will take this a bit further. If Kavanaugh’s support continues to fade—this survey was taken before these new allegations were public—will Republicans supporting the nomination face a backlash from their constituents?

Credit for the piece goes to Nate Cohn.

Supreme Court Picks

I was initially going to ignore this one graphic, but the absolute craziness of this past week’s Bret Kavanaugh nomination hearings/process made this feel at least somewhat relevant. But hey, at least it’s Friday?

I'm going with Marbury v. Madison all the way.
I’m going with Marbury v. Madison all the way.

Credit for the piece goes to Randall Munroe.

Kavanaugh the Conservative

Last night President Trump nominated Merrick Garland to fill the seat left by Anthony Kennedy. Just kidding. But he is up for a vote in the Senate. Also just kidding.

No, instead, President Trump nominated a very conservative judge for the Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh. How conservative? Well, FiveThirtyEight explained in a piece that plotted the judge against his probably peers on the bench, based upon one measure of judicial ideology. And it turns out, spoiler, Kavanaugh sits just to the left of Clarence Thomas. And he sits pretty well to the right.

To the right, to the right, to the right goes the Court
To the right, to the right, to the right goes the Court

The graphic itself is an evolution of a piece from last Friday that looked at what were thought to be the four main candidates on Trump’s shortlist.

A definite lean to the right
A definite lean to the right

The final piece, with only Kavanaugh plotted, removes the other potential candidates. And it functions well, using the brighter orange to draw attention from the black dots of the sitting bench and the open dot of the vacant seat. My slight issue is with the predecessor graphic that shows the four candidates.

I probably would have just left off Barrett as she did not have a score. While I have no doubt that she would score to the right based upon all the reading I have done over the past several days, it feels a bit odd to place her on the graphic at all. Instead, I probably would have used an asterisk or a footnote to say that she did not have a score and thus was not placed.

Credit for the piece goes to Oliver Roeder and Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux.

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.