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In an ideal world, all judges and Justices would be completely impartial and would decide cases solely on the basis of equitable laws (this would require the Executive and Legislative branches to refrain from applying personal political opinion to legislation, as well).

Unfortunately, human beings don't operate that way. People are incapable of exercising pure reason without applying some degree of personal ideology and values to their thinking, even if unconsciously. A person's ideology and values inevitably inform his or her analysis and interpretation of concepts. Further, most people believe their political ideology represents the way things should be, and don't consider logic stemming from these beliefs to be distorted or unjust.

This natural human tendency results in the Court leaning toward "conservative" opinions when it's dominated by Justices with conservative principles, or toward "liberal" opinions when dominated by Justices with liberal principles. Humans (including Supreme Court Justices) are more likely to vote in accordance with their personal ideology than against it.

Having said this, a Justice should be self-aware and guard against allowing him- or herself to be unduly influenced by personal preferences or any political party's agenda. One of the benefits of the United States' government's policy of judicial appointment and lifelong tenure is elimination of the temptation to please a particular political constituency. This enhances independent thought processes.

Also, bear in mind that no single Justice determines the outcome of a ruling. Cases are discussed among the Justices in conference, and opinions must withstand the scrutiny of peers, as well as the test of law.

For more information, see Related Questions, below.

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Q: Is it proper for a Supreme Court Justice to allow his or her personal political opinion to influence the ruling of the court?
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