How the Nine Supremes Line Up

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The nine members of the United States Supreme Court

When the high court convenes on Dec. 11, the day after may be seen as a drop-dead date for designating electors. But there is precedent for delay. Congress accepted Hawaii's electors for JFK after a late recount showed him finally beating Nixon.

APPOINTED BY Richard Nixon (1972)
Keenly aware of the Court's limited enforcement powers, the Chief Justice tries to give deference to the other branches — and to the states — whenever possible. On voting rights his record is stingy: As a lawyer in the '60s, he helped Republicans enforce literacy tests at the polls.

APPOINTED BY Gerald Ford (1975)
Widely expected to be the next Justice to retire, Stevens, 80, is probably the most liberal member of the Court, especially on criminal cases. He's also the Justice most likely to issue one-man dissents and concurrences, opinions that his colleagues on the Court don't join.

APPOINTED BY Ronald Reagan (1981)
A conservative with an independent streak, she has become the Court's most influential Justice. The former state senator is likely to be sympathetic to Florida legislators who say their laws have been changed. But she also prefers the Court to stay out of state matters.

APPOINTED BY Ronald Reagan (1986)
The Court's most irascible Justice, Scalia is famous for his lucid prose and judicial independence. His rulings are based on the "plain meaning" of the Constitution — one reason he cares so much about Article II's deference of election power to state legislatures.

APPOINTED BY Ronald Reagan (1988)
For the most part he's been a reliable conservative, but he has become an occasional swing vote, especially on abortion rights. During oral arguments two weeks ago, he was skeptical of the Florida Supreme Court's decision to extend the recount deadline.

APPOINTED BY George Bush (1990)
Though chosen by Bush in the hope of building a stable conservative majority on the Court, Souter has voted with the liberals on most important issues. But he can be a cautious jurist, one who is reluctant to use the power of the courts to embarrass legislatures.

APPOINTED BY George Bush (1991)
Supporters say he is "the leading conservative in America"; liberals call him "the youngest, cruelest Justice." He owes his career to the elder Bush, who made him a judge in 1990 and 15 months later nominated him to replace Thurgood Marshall on the high court.

APPOINTED BY Bill Clinton (1993)
She usually votes with the liberals, but Ginsburg has been restrained in using Court power to second-guess legislatures. During the first round of arguments in this case, however, she also defended the Florida court's power to interpret the word of the state legislature.

APPOINTED BY Bill Clinton (1994)
A cautious jurist who usually votes with court liberals — except on criminal cases — Breyer is a pragmatist. In the first round of oral arguments in this case, he wanted to know the real consequences that would flow if the Court decided one way or another.