Who are the real activists on the U.S. Supreme Court? Do Republican appointees differ from Democratic appointees? How much? Are federal judges political?
We catalogued thousands of judicial decisions — well over 20,000– to analyze this. We looked for partisan bias by studying whether and when judges vote to uphold decisions of federal agencies, in areas including environmental protection, labor, telecommunications, discrimination and occupational safety.
To test for judicial activism and judicial restraint, we examined all the data to find which justices are most likely to strike down agency decisions.
It turns out that Breyer wins the award for Judicial Restraint. Surprisingly, the award for Judicial Activism goes to . . . Justice Scalia. Here are the results: