Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump's nominee to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court, would have the second most conservative score (0.693) on the bench if confirmed, next to Justice Clarence Thomas (0.725), per a measure that scores judges on a liberal-conservative spectrum.

Expand chart
Current justices: Epstein, Martin, and Quinn, 2017 "President-Elect Trump and his Possible Justices", Kavanaugh's score: Epstein, Martin, and Quinn, 2016 "Possible Presidents and their Possible Justices"; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon, Harry Stevens/Axios

Why it matters: Kennedy often sided with the liberal wing of the court, so with this choice, Trump is cementing a solid conservative majority on the bench.

How to read the chart: An analysis by political scientists Lee Epstein, Andrew D. Martin, and Kevin Quinn places judges on an ideological spectrum called the “Judicial Common Space." Conservative justices receive scores from 0 to 1, liberal justices from –1 to 0.

Go deeper

The apocalypse scenario

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Democratic lawyers are preparing to challenge any effort by President Trump to swap electors chosen by voters with electors selected by Republican-controlled legislatures. One state of particular concern: Pennsylvania, where the GOP controls the state house.

Why it matters: Trump's refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power, together with a widely circulated article in The Atlantic about how bad the worst-case scenarios could get, is drawing new attention to the brutal fights that could jeopardize a final outcome.

Federal judge rules Trump administration can't end census early

Census workers outside Lincoln Center in New York. Photo: Noam Galai/Getty Images

A federal judge ruled late Thursday that the Trump administration could not end the 2020 census a month early.

Why it matters: The decision states that an early end — on Sept. 30, instead of Oct. 31 — would likely produce inaccuracies and thus impact political representation and government funding around the country.

Who Biden might put on the Supreme Court

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

In the wake of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death, Democrats are compiling lists of Black women they want Joe Biden to consider for the bench if he's elected — with an eye toward people from outside the traditional legal establishment.

Why it matters: Supreme Court appointments are one of the most consequential parts of any president's legacy, and a President Biden would need to find picks who could try to wrangle liberal victories from a solid conservative majority.

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