Merrick Garland's judicial record over nearly two decades indicates he would side more often than not with the Supreme Court's liberal justices on a range of cases splitting the court along ideological lines.
The real question, to be answered definitively only if Garland wins Senate confirmation, is how far to the left would the court shift if a new liberal majority were in place.
Garland's ascension could well be a game-changing moment that would make the court significantly more liberal on social issues, government regulation and access to the courts. That's driving Republicans to demand that any choice to fill the seat held by Justice Antonin Scalia, who died last month, must wait until after the next president takes office in January 2017.
Yet liberals who wanted President Barack Obama to make a bold choice are voicing mostly tepid support for Garland, even as they called on Republicans to allow hearings and a vote on the nomination.
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said Thursday that should he win in November, he would want the White House to withdraw Garland's nomination if the Senate hadn't acted by then. "Between you and me, I think there are some more progressive judges out there," Sanders told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow.