Why Roberts may become a swing vote
The Washington Post “Democrats might find a surprising silver lining” in Brett Kavanaugh’s ascension to the Supreme Court, said Lawrence Baum and Neal Devins. Chief Justice John Roberts may take a couple of steps to the center, in order to restrain the new conservative majority’s impact. Roberts is quite conservative himself, but as chief, “he has a special responsibility regarding the court as an institution,” and he has expressed concern that the public will come to see the justices as nakedly partisan actors making decisions on 5-4, party-line votes. In the past, Roberts has sometimes moderated his conservatism to lower the partisan temperature, such as when he cast the deciding vote to uphold the Affordable Care Act in 2012. For the same reason, he is likely to steer the court’s agenda away from abortion, campaign finance, and other hot-button issues for at least a year or two, and even sometimes serve as a swing vote on cases the court does take, siding with progressives. This doesn’t mean Roberts will truly replace retired Justice Anthony Kennedy as “a judicial moderate.” But Kavanaugh’s ascension to the court “might not affect the court’s policies” as dramatically as Democrats fear.