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How Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation could affect Roe v. Wade

With President Trump’s nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh as Justice Anthony Kennedy’s replacement on the Supreme Court, the fate of Roe v. Wade and women’s reproductive rights have sparked a sharp debate.

If Kavanaugh is confirmed, it would mean a significant shift to the right for the Supreme Court, according to the Judicial Common Space system, a metric developed by political scientists Lee Epstein, Andrew D. Martin, Jeffrey A. Segal, and Chad Westerland.

The system assigns a score to Supreme Court justices based on their voting patterns; for federal appeals court judges, like Kavanaugh, scores are based on the ideologies of the presidents and senators who nominated them.


Conservative judges are assigned a score between 0 and 1; the closer you are to 1, the more conservative the judge. Similarly, liberal-leaning judges are given scores between -1 and 0.

According to this system, the only judge more conservative than Kavanaugh is Justice Clarence Thomas.

Justice Kennedy, who was often considered the swing vote, occupies a far more liberal position in the system than Kavanaugh does.

So what does this mean if the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling were to be overturned? Four states — North Dakota, South Dakota, Mississippi, and Louisiana — would automatically ban abortions.

Ten states would go back to pre-Roe laws that would theoretically make abortions illegal in those states. This includes Massachusetts, although state lawmakers are moving to repeal the 19th-century law.

Only nine states would protect the right of a woman to have abortions.

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