This is an excellent example of something I wrote about here, which is that the political spectrum can be represented graphically by a circle, rather than a line.
Liptak quotes one interested party who sees it that way:
“It’s a remarkable phenomenon,” said Norman L. Reimer, executive director of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. “The left and the right have bent to the point where they are now in agreement on many issues. In the area of criminal justice, the whole idea of less government, less intrusion, less regulation has taken hold.”
Criminal justice issues seem particularly conducive to producing that bending-around effect. More purely economic issues lend themselves more to the traditional linear view of the spectrum. No model ever exactly fits reality.