A new book by CNN's senior Supreme Court analyst Joan Biskupic reveals the ways in which Chief Justice John Roberts engages in backroom horse-trading on important votes -- including one landmark case where he wanted to quash a potentially incendiary opinion by Associate Justice Samuel Alito.
According to Biskupic's book, "Nine Black Robes: Inside the Supreme Court's Drive to the Right and Its Historic Consequences," Roberts worked "privately with Justice Anthony Kennedy, the author of the Obergefell v. Hodges landmark ruling, to steer the court’s outcome in a pair of key gay rights disputes."
As Biskupic explained, Supreme Court justices aren't fond of being accused of vote trading when making rulings that can impact the lives of Americans, but it is a fact of life behind the scenes.
According to the book, "Roberts would join Kennedy in favor of LGBTQ interests in ruling that Arkansas could not prevent two lesbians from both being named on their baby’s birth certificate. Meanwhile, Kennedy would vote for the court to hear the appeal of the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Colorado, who’d been sanctioned for refusing to bake a wedding cake for two gay men."
As Biskupic explained, "The pact had an additional result of keeping a testy draft from Justice Samuel Alito regarding the Masterpiece Cakeshop petition from becoming public."
"Kennedy was reluctant to take up the baker’s case so soon after the Obergefell decision and without significant lower-court consideration of such emerging issues. He’d previously told colleagues that he was skeptical of religious exemptions for retailers who would deny services to gay people. So Phillips’ petition languished," the report notes. "Alito, focused on potential hostility toward the baker’s religious beliefs, began working on a dissenting opinion from the expected denial of the Masterpiece Cakeshop appeal. But that Alito dissent, circulated to his colleagues and described by court sources, never reached the public because the justices eventually agreed that the baker’s claim of religious discrimination should be heard."
You can read about more Supreme Court maneuvering here.