New ‘Roberts at 10’ Snapshot: The Evolving Story Of John Roberts’s Stance On Federal Power

“Chief Justice Roberts’s views on the powers of Congress to solve national problems aren’t exactly what Judge Roberts presented them to be at his 2005 confirmation hearing.”


Washington, DC – For its “Roberts at 10” project, examining John Roberts’s first ten Terms as Chief Justice of the United States, Constitutional Accountability Center today is releasing its latest Snapshot: Roberts at 10: The Evolving Story of John Roberts and Congress’s Commerce Clause and Spending Clause Powers. Today’s release looks at Chief Justice Roberts’s approach to fundamental questions of the power of the federal government to solve national problems under key clauses of the U.S. Constitution. 


Read the new “Roberts at 10” snapshot here: 


Today’s Snapshot begins by looking back at the answers then-Judge Roberts gave to the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2005 to questions about his likelihood of continuing the “states’ rights revolution” championed by his predecessor, Chief Justice William Rehnquist. With that as a baseline, Roberts’s record in major cases deciding questions of federal power since his confirmation are examined – with particular attention to the complex story of the challenge to the Affordable Care Act in NFIB v. Sebelius. Finally, it notes the discrepancy between what Roberts told the Senate and the Nation in 2005, and his jurisprudence in the Terms that followed. An excerpt from today’s Snapshot:


[I]t may be that the Chief Justice’s future decisions will help shed additional light on his decision in NFIB and on his views on federal power, more broadly.  At this point, though, it’s difficult to put too much stock in then-Judge Roberts’s confirmation hearing statements about how he saw Lopez and Morrison fitting into the 200-years of Commerce Clause jurisprudence that preceded them.




Additional Resources:


“Roberts at 10” Introductory Snapshot: A Look at the First Decade of John Roberts’s Tenure as Chief Justice:


“Roberts at 10” experts available for interviews: CAC President Doug Kendall and Appellate Counsel Brianne Gorod




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.