“Swing Vote”

Chief Justice John Roberts Has Become The “Swing Vote” On The Supreme Court Since The Retirement Of Anthony Kennedy

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!

A Way To Promote End Of Political Polarization: Nominate Merrick Garland A Justice Of The Supreme Court

Assuming that the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court fails to gain a majority of the US Senate, the future of the Court and its reputation remains at stake.

One way to resolve it is for both Republicans and Democrats to work toward the end of polarization, and call upon President Donald Trump to nominate Merrick Garland to the empty seat on the Supreme Court, three years after he was summarily dismissed and ignored by the Republicans, when President Barack Obama nominated him to replace Antonin Scalia, who died in February 2016.

Merrick Garland was seen by Obama as a compromise choice, whom the Republicans would accept, as he is seen as a moderate, and has a distinguished background as the Chief Judge of the US Court Of Appeals for the DC Circuit, the highest court next to the Supreme Court.

Garland is technically the “boss” of Brett Kavanaugh, and also was of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, and both of them have always been very positive in their views of Garland.

Being in his mid 60s. Garland would serve far less than the theoretical 30 years that Gorsuch might serve, and that Kananaugh might serve if he was confirmed.

Garland is perfectly qualified to keep the Court balanced, and would likely replace Anthony Kennedy as the “swing vote” on the Court, and would prevent the kind of polarization represented by an extreme right wing choice for the Supreme Court, keeping it as four liberals, four conservatives, and Garland as the crucial vote, sometimes siding with one or the other side, as Anthony Kennedy did, and earlier, Sandra Day O’Connor did.

Why could not the two parties agree to a truce, to work toward cooperation, and return the US Senate to what it was under Lyndon B. Johnson and Ronald Reagan, when Senator Everett Dirksen worked with LBJ, and Speaker of the House Thomas “Tip” O’Neill did with Reagan, working across the aisle on many matters?

It is proper that Merrick Garland be put on the Court, as a distinguished, and accomplished man, who deserves, belatedly, three years late, to give his service to our nation’s highest Court.

The End Of The Supreme Court Term: Any Retirements Coming?

This is the last week of the present Supreme Court session, and Court watchers are wondering if we are about to see a sharp swing to the Right, with the potential retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy, appointed by Republican President Ronald Reagan nearly 30 years ago, and a crucial swing vote ever since on the Court.

Kennedy has been on the conservative side about two thirds of the time, and on the liberal side one third of the time, and without him, for instance, there would have been no advancements on gay rights and gay marriage, as he was the crucial fifth vote.

His vote this week may decide whether the Muslim ban of Donald Trump is upheld, or prevented, as it has been by several circuit courts around the nation.

Kennedy has been the unpredictable vote all by himself in the past decade, since Sandra Day O’Connor left the court at the end of 2005.

For a decade before 2005, it was said the Court was the “O’Connor-Kennedy Court”, and now for the past 12 years, it has been the “Kennedy” Court, more than the Roberts Court, as traditionally, the Court is described by the name of its Chief Justice.

Since Kennedy will be turning 81 in one month, and is the second oldest member of the Court, after Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who is 84, but has made clear she is going nowhere, and hopes to stay on the Court until 2021, so that hopefully a future Democratic President in 2021 can choose her successor.

So if Kennedy does retire this week, it will mark a sharp move to the Right, which will undermine constitutional law for the next generation!

Momentous Supreme Court Month Coming Up: Gay Marriage, Affirmative Action, Voting Rights Act Cases To Be Decided

The United States Supreme Court is entering its last month of the present session, and as usual, is leaving its most blockbuster decisions to the last weeks of its term.

Every June is momentous on the Supreme Court, as for instance, the upholding of the Obama Health Care Plan last June.

But this June is possibly more crucial when looking at history, as well as the issue of civil rights and civil liberties!

The most important cases are on Gay Marriage, Affirmative Action, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

With so much at stake, with 13 states having legalized gay marriage, and more to come in the next year, it would be wonderful if the Supreme Court went the whole distance, as it did in Loving V. Virginia on interracial marriage in 1967. It would be a major victory for civil rights and civil liberties, and stop the right wing attempt to fight gay marriage dead in its tracks! The hate mongering would go on, but if the Court ruled that two men or two women can be married, it could not be overcome by religious extremists by law!

Affirmative Action has been in effect since 1972, and remains highly controversial, but is now in danger or being ended as a method to promote the advancement of minority groups and women.

The Voting Rights Act, first passed in 1965, and renewed in 1982 and 2006, is now in danger of being curbed or ended, on the false basis that the record of Southern and other states on voting rights in the past no longer applies, but that leaves open the possibility of new voting rights violations in the future.

It is assumed that there are four votes on the Court to uphold all three cases–those of Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elana Kagan.

It is also assumed that three votes to prevent gay marriage and end affirmative action and the Voting Rights Act are certain–those of Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito.

It would be a major surprise if any of these seven votes ended up differently.

The two “swing” votes are those of Chief Justice John Roberts, who has become somewhat unpredictable after, surprisingly, backing ObamaCare last June; and Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, the true “swing” vote alone, since Sandra Day O’Connor left the Court seven years ago.

Will Kennedy side with the liberals on the Court on all three cases? It seems highly unlikely at this point, but a good bet on gay marriage at the least, but the Court could choose to decide that case in a very limited manner, not an all encompassing decision.

We shall see on all three cases very soon!

Is It The Kennedy Court, Rather Than The Roberts Court?

The more one analyzes the US Supreme Court in recent years, it is more clear than ever that we should call it the Anthony Kennedy Court, rather than the John Roberts Court!

Kennedy, appointed to the Supreme Court by Ronald Reagan in 1988 as a compromise choice who could pass Senate muster, after the well publicized rejection of Robert Bork in 1987, has now been on the Court for 24 years, and is seen more than ever as the “swing vote” on the Court, first sharing that with former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, until her retirement in 2005, but now all by himself as the most significant vote on the Court.

Kennedy, basically a conservative but with an open mind, has leaned to the Right two thirds of the time, and to the Left one third of the time on the average.

It is seen by just about all Court watchers that Kennedy’s vote on the Obama Health Care legislation is crucial, as to whether it survives or goes down.

Kennedy disappointed many on the left in being in the majority on the Bush V. Gore case of 2000, the Citizens United case of 2010, and the Strip Search case of this past Monday. But at the same time, he upheld the rights of gays to privacy in the Lawrence V. Texas case of 2003, enraging fellow Justice Antonin Scalia.

His questioning about the Obama Health Care law last week showed the quandary he is in, and he is getting pressure from many sources to uphold the law, but the belief is that he will not give in to pressure, and might even be tempted to go with the other conservative Justices in overturning the law.

The theory is that IF Kennedy goes with upholding the law, that Chief Justice John Roberts will join him, making it a 6-3 vote, but that if he decides to negate the law, then the vote will be a partisan 5-4 vote against the legislation.

So to call the present Court the Kennedy Court seems very appropriate!