Criminal Justice Divides the ‘Conservative’ Judiciary

It was a Monday in June 2019, and a sharply divided U.S. Supreme Court had just issued a 5–4 decision in a controversial case. Nothing unusual in that—except for the way the justices lined up to vote. At one end stood Neil Gorsuch, a conservative jurist appointed by President Donald Trump. At the opposite end stood Brett Kavanaugh, a fellow conservative and Trump appointee. What drove them so far apart?

At issue that day in United States v. Davis was a federal statute that, in the Court’s words, “threatens long prison sentences for anyone who uses a firearm in connection with certain

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