Chief Justice John Roberts, appointed in 2005, has become a major surprise on the Supreme Court, and is seen by many as the new, often reliable “swing vote” on the Court, enraging hard line conservatives.
He has become unpredictable after years of being seen as a solid conservative, and is evolving into the most important Chief Justice since Earl Warren retired a half century ago.
Roberts is now perceived as the new “Anthony Kennedy”, going with the liberal side of the Court about one third of the time, and staying with the conservative side two thirds of the time.
This does not please right wingers, who want a Court that is back to the Gilded Age in mentality.
Roberts saved Obama Care in 2012; and just this year backed off on conservative attempts to end abortion; to end DACA (Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals; and backed the rights of gays and lesbians in employment, all path breaking moments.
He also prevented a citizenship question from being added to the census, and backed New York City’s strict gun control laws. And just this week, he upheld Nevada’s restriction on church attendance in the midst of the CoronaVirus Pandemic.
Roberts also was critical of President Donald Trump’s statement last year about Justices being loyal to who appointed them, when he said that there are no Bush Justices, no Obama Justices, no Clinton Justices. And of course, he presided over the Trump impeachment trial professionally, but one can see he is no fan of Donald Trump in any sense.
It seems clear that Roberts is thinking of his and the Court’s reputation and legacy, as the Court is awfully close to the point where it would seem regressive for the 21st century, were Roberts to go full right wing.
So despite strong criticism from the Right, John Roberts has been a savior on the Court at times.
Most important is that Roberts, writing for the Court majority of 7-2 on two cases has made it clear that Trump is subject to the law regarding no immunity from state criminal investigation of his taxes and also from congressional subpoenas, a stunning series of development at the beginning of July. So the President is not above the law!
Let us cheer on Chief Justice John Roberts for maintaining the reputation of the Supreme Court as NOT overly ideological, to the detriment of Americans!