In her column for the Washington Post, longtime political observer Ruth Marcus suggested that the career arc of Chief Justice John Roberts is ending in"'tragedy" as the so-called "Robert court" has spun out of his control and the reputation of the court under his stewardship is hitting new lows every day.
With the court still reeling from the overturning of Roe v. Wade --that set off a firestorm with polls showing a whopping 62 percent of the public disapproved of the gutting a fifty-year-old Supreme court ruling -- Roberts has been on the receiving end of criticism for not swaying conservative associate Supreme Court justices to take a much more moderate position.
As Marcus sees it, Roberts' reputation for being a guiding force on the court has been irreparably damaged.
"On the final day of oral arguments last term, the chief justice’s voice cracked with emotion as he bade farewell to the retiring Justice Stephen G. Breyer. It was a striking moment for the normally buttoned-up John G. Roberts Jr., and one that seemed to signify more than sorrow at the departure of a longtime colleague," she wrote. "It is not far-fetched to imagine that Roberts was mourning the decisive end of his vision of presiding over an institution seen as operating above the partisan fray."
According to the columnist, Roberts "is an at times isolated and even tragic figure. Roberts wanted to be at the helm of a court that was more often unanimous than splintered; now it is cleaved, 6-3, along hardened ideological lines."
Adding that he has "been outflanked and marginalized by five conservative justices to his right," she claimed Robert's suffered a collateral blow because he has not been able to find out who leaked the draft Dobbs opinion written by Associate Justice Samuel Alito, making him look even more ineffectual.
"When the final Dobbs ruling was released, Roberts was a lone voice, his suggested compromise unable to attract a single additional vote," she wrote before adding that the court's reputation is now in freefall after convening for its 18th year on his watch.
"With trust in the court at a record low — down 20 points in two years to just 47 percent of Americans saying they had a 'great deal' or 'fair amount' of faith in the institution — Roberts felt compelled to speak out in its defense, engaging in an extraordinary public back-and-forth with Justice Elena Kagan about the court’s legitimacy," Marcus reported. "In short, with the death of liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the arrival of Justice Amy Coney Barrett to shore up the conservative wing, this is the Roberts court in name only."
According to Mike Davis, who helped get Donald Trump's three nominees confirmed, "He’s just less relevant now."
“Trump transformed the 5-to-4 John Roberts court into the 5-to-4 Clarence Thomas court, meaning it’s more likely the court’s just going to follow the law and not be concerned about the political fallout," he suggested with liberal Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe contributing, "He’s largely irrelevant, except that the court has gone so far, so fast that he may become more relevant depending on whether anybody else is chastened.”
Marcus added, "The question now is how Roberts will respond to this new reality."
"He is a chief caught between conflicting imperatives. If he insists on hewing to the go-slow, decide-no-more-than-necessary approach that has been the hallmark of his tenure, he risks appearing weak — and losing what little ability he retains to influence and constrain the conservative majority," she elaborated. "If he votes with that majority, as might be his underlying inclination in most cases, he risks contributing to what he has been laboring to prevent: the decline of the institution."
You can read more here.
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