How did President Reagan change the makeup of the Supreme Court?

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rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Reagan appointed four Supreme Court justices: Sandra Day O'Connor, Chief Justice William Rehnquist, Antonin Scalia, and Anthony Kennedy. These justices were appointed because of their apparently conservative beliefs, a departure from the Supreme Court of the previous three decades, which had served as a force for liberal reforms. Rehnquist and especially Scalia lived up to their billings, O'Connor and Kennedy had a more ambiguous role, occupying the ideological center of the Court. (Scalia and Kennedy are still active justices; Rehnquist is deceased, and O'Connor is retired.) In short, these justices represented a desire by conservatives to move the court from an "activist" position usually associated with the Warren Burger court. In partciular, they, especially Rehnquist and Scalia, favored limiting the powers of the federal government in favor of state powers.

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