On July 22nd Dr. Joe Kobylka, incoming chair of the Political Science Department at SMU, spoke on the intriguing topic "Do We Now Have a Republican/Trump US Supreme Court?" His focus was on the current Court consisting of six men and three women of whom six are Roman Catholic and three are Jewish, and five of whom lean toward conservatism while the remaining four tend toward liberalism.
Although the two most junior justices were nominated by President Trump each has already surprised him by their votes in two instances. This has been a reoccurring theme for over 100 years. Theodore Roosevelt rued the fact that he had nominated Oliver W. Holmes,Jr.. to the Court. Eisenhower claimed that his nomination of Earl Warren to be Chief Justice was the worst decision he ever made. Surely Kennedy would have been surprised to have seen how conservative Byron White became over the years. Similarly Nixon was surprised that his nomination of Justice Blackmon to be a mere clone of Chief Justice Warren Burger backfired. President George H.W. Bush along with most Republicans was surprised when David Souter, a nominee with no published opinions, turned out to be a "closet liberal."
Having observed the Supreme Court for many years I have reached the conclusion that a nominee's judicial philosophy-- discernable during confirmation- is likely to change when a justice realizes that the only binding obligation under oath is to defend the Constitution and to decide cases consistent with law and justice.