One thing you have to give Chief Justice John Roberts, he’s smart. Smart enough to know that Individual 1 poses not just a danger to the nation, but to something he probably considers more important: his legacy. So here we go with another profile of the man as a principled but conservative jurist who really, really isn’t just a partisan activist using his position at the court to undermining the Voting Rights Act, empower corporate America, shore up the NRA. Oh, wait, he did all those things.
But now there are two new rabid conservatives whose seats on the court might be just as illegitimate as the unindicted co-conspirator who nominated them. So he has to walk a careful line: follow his arch-conservative, partisan heart, or think about how the future is going to consider him and temper those leanings to secure a place in history. To that end, suggests The New York Times Adam Liptak, on Friday he “seemed to underscore that point […] joining the court’s four-member liberal wing, all appointed by Democratic presidents, to reject a request from the Trump administration in a case that could upend decades of asylum policy.” He also recently “drew sharp criticism from three conservative colleagues for voting to deny review in two cases on efforts to stop payments to Planned Parenthood.”
All this is him “controlling the pace of change” on the court, suggest Liptak, quoting Daniel Epps, a law professor at Washington University in St. Louis. It doesn’t mean he’s all of a sudden going to become that non-partisan umpire, calling balls and strikes as he promised in his own confirmation hearings.
“If he’s smart, and he is, what he’s probably thinking is, ‘I do have a substantive agenda of things I want to accomplish. But it’s a lot easier to do that when the court retains its legitimacy. Let’s do as much as we can get away with, but maybe that’s a little less than some of my colleagues to my right think we can get away with,'” Professor Epps said.
Yeah, they’ll wait until there’s a Democrat in the White House again, and then thwart her at every turn. That’s a lot more fun than doing a crazy man’s bidding, anyway. Among all the things Democrats have to be planning for when we’ve swept back in to save the country will be impeaching illegitimate judges seated by an illegitimate president.
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.