Civil and Human Rights

Chief Justice John Roberts and LGBT Rights? The Jury is Still Out

Washington, DC –  Less than three weeks before the U.S. Supreme Court hears argument in this Term’s monumental marriage equality cases, Constitutional Accountability Center is releasing the latest Snapshot in its “Roberts at 10” project examining John Roberts’s first nine Terms as Chief Justice of the United States: Roberts at 10: John Roberts and LGBT Rights – The Jury is Still Out


Today’s Snapshot looks at the Chief Justice’s approach to LGBT rights, with a focus on marriage equality – the one area directly involving the rights of members of the LGBT community in which the Roberts Court has already decided other cases. This Snapshot also touches on the next big issue involving LGBT rights the Roberts Court is likely to confront: the claims by opponents of equality that they have a religious liberty right to deny business, commercial or other services to same-sex couples and other members of the LGBT community, or to otherwise discriminate against them.


Read the new “Roberts at 10” Snapshot and an excerpt here:


In the most important case involving the rights of gay men and lesbians decided to date by the Roberts Court – United States v. Windsor – Chief Justice Roberts dissented from a ruling that vindicated the equal protection rights of same-sex couples and that has helped bring marriage equality to a substantial majority of states. While Roberts’s narrow view of equal protection in Windsor does not generate optimism that he will vote to protect marriage equality in Obergefell, his jurisprudence still leaves that possibility open. Additionally, Roberts certainly has seen what a watershed decision Windsor has been – a decision that is already a great legacy of his Court and one of the most rights-affirming rulings it has issued. If the Windsor majority takes the final step to recognize full marriage equality, will Chief Justice Roberts, undoubtedly concerned about his own legacy as well as the Court’s institutional legitimacy, again be content to have such a momentous ruling issued over his dissent? Chief Justice Roberts’s legacy on marriage equality is still to be fully written.




Additional Resources:


“Roberts at 10” experts available for interviews: CAC Vice President Judith E. Schaeffer, Appellate Counsel Brianne Gorod, and Civil Rights Director David Gans.


Roberts at 10: A Look at the First Decade of John Roberts’s Tenure as Chief Justice (opening Snapshot): 


Roberts at 10: Federal Power: The Evolving Story of John Roberts and Congress’s Commerce Clause and Spending Clause Powers: 


Roberts at 10: Campaign Finance and Voting Rights: Easier to Donate, Harder to Vote: 


Roberts at 10: Roberts’s Quiet, But Critical, Votes To Limit Women’s Rights: 


Roberts at 10: Roberts’s Environmental Law Record: It’s Not Good, But Don’t Count Him Out: 




Constitutional Accountability Center ( is a think tank, public interest law firm, and action center dedicated to fulfilling the progressive promise of the Constitution’s text and history.