Chief Justice Roberts ‘defying expectations’ while siding with liberals
U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts is being praised by CNN for maneuvering cases and “defying expectations as he sided with liberal justices” in a series of court decisions that have left conservatives nonplussed.
Last week, Roberts abandoned his usually reliable defense of religious freedoms to cast a deciding vote in a 5-4 majority against a church that said it was being singled out by the government on coronavirus restrictions in Nevada.
While casinos have remained open to large crowds in Nevada, churches have been limited to crowds under 50 people, a limit that many feel targets the freedom of religion.
It’s the second time the Roberts court has upheld coronavirus occupancy restrictions during the pandemic and conservatives are growing disaffected by Roberts.
“Freedom of religion is our first freedom. Yet SCOTUS has ruled that casinos can host hundreds of gamblers, while churches cannot welcome their full congregations. Justice Roberts once again got it wrong, shamefully closing church doors to their flocks,” said Tom Cotton, in a statement after the decision.
“Overall,” says CNN, “Roberts was in the majority on the nine-member bench more than any other justice this session, meaning his views prevailed most in the justices’ private sessions. He used the full power of his position as chief and his place at the ideological middle to shape decisions” that have benefited liberals.
Conservatives have been increasingly dismayed with Roberts, a nominee of George W. Bush, who has sided with the liberals as he preserved Obamacare, kept DACA in place and rejected a citizenship question on the U.S. Census.
Conservative Supreme Court justices also have taken note of Roberts’ erratic record. They now feel uncomfortable with Roberts’ decision-making and have rejected cases regarding Second Amendment rights because they have no idea how Roberts will vote, according to CNN.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) was so disappointed in the Nevada church decision that he tweeted sarcastically asking the Roberts court if churches could reopen if they set up gambling.
But liberals are not surprised by Roberts’ disaffection with conservatives.
“Roberts went out of his way to telegraph his displeasure with the raft of lawsuits contesting COVID-19 restrictions as unconstitutional burdens on religious liberty,” says the ultra-liberal Slate.
Conservatives are increasingly worried that Roberts could defect on the mail-in ballot question that is already taking up time for the Supremes. Democrats are pushing mail-in ballots that will allow them to more easily manipulate the turnout for Democrats.
The court has recently reviewed cases from Wisconsin, Texas and Alabama that pushed mail-in voting as a health measure. In each of the three cases, Roberts sided with conservatives in deciding the case (Alabama, Wisconsin) or declining the case (Texas).
But conservatives take little solace from those votes.
As CNN notes, previously to siding with liberals on DACA, Roberts had been supportive of Trump immigration policies, too and they’ll like need a few Roberts votes between now and the November election.
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