Is Chief Justice John Roberts moving to the left? Conservatives are growing concerned he is increasingly siding with liberals on the U.S. Supreme Court, according to Politico reports Monday.
Any conservative will tell you it started with his tie-breaking vote on the legality of the Affordable Care Act. It was in 2012 when Roberts sided with the left in a 5-4 ruling that declared the law constitutional. Roberts was later accused of looking for an argument that wasn’t even made in court to justify his vote.
Roberts made his ruling citing the government’s power to tax, although the White House maintained the fine imposed was for only those without health care insurance. But his thought process didn’t stop there. He has continued this form of judgment in the Wisconsin voter ID law and stopped enforcement of parts of Texas’ abortion clinic restrictions.
Ironically, conservative justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito all made public dissents on those cases.
The chief justice has also declined to hear seven cases on gay marriage this month alone. That all but leaves same-sex marriage standing in those states without having the court’s weight to rule against it.
Again, it is widely believed that Scalia, Thomas and Alito would have voted to hear the cases. Roberts sees himself as an umpire the Senate confirmed to be the roving decision-maker.
Carrie Severino of the conservative Judicial Crisis Network told Politico, “I think there are a lot of conservatives who feel like, instead of calling the balls and strikes, he’s kind of ducking when possible.” Right impression or not, conservatives are in wonderment of this man they thought was a fellow conservative.
He follows the pattern of other conservatives appointed to the bench who strayed from their previous rulings in lower court appointments. That includes justices Sandra Day O’Connor and John Paul Stevens, both appointed as conservatives, slowly moved to the left during their tenures.
Roberts appears to be anxious to avoid any appearance that his court is being affected by the increasingly partisan mood of the country. That was obvious in his Affordable Care Act opinion. He doesn’t want that partisan divide affecting the court and his legacy.
The question is how do you change your lifelong stripes with a new robe? The right is asking that very question.