Federal Courts and Nominations

TV (FOX News Channel): A look at the influence of Chief Justice John Roberts

Watch the latest video at video.foxnews.com

       By Shannon Bream


As the Supreme Court term winds down, Chief Justice John Roberts is being closely watched as he shepherds opinions in some hot-button cases involving executive power and religious freedom through their final drafts.


Appointed by President George W. Bush in 2005, Roberts vowed during his confirmation hearings to act as an umpire, calling balls and strikes but not taking sides. In the majority of the court’s most contentious opinions during his time at the helm, Roberts has voted with the conservative wing. However, he scored lavish praise from liberals when he authored the opinion upholding the Affordable Care Act.


Since then, the love from the left has dissipated. Elizabeth Wydra, chief counsel for the Constitutional Accountability Center, said, “When you look beyond the high profile decision in the Affordable Care Act, the Roberts court is undeniably conservative and the chief himself has led the court in an undeniably ideological conservative direction.”


Roberts has taken heat from the left for decisions on affirmative action, the Voting Rights Act, campaign finance and prayer at public meetings. Thomas Dupree, Jr., a former Justice Department official who now argues before the Supreme Court, said, “I think the liberals who are critical of those decisions have now viewed the ObamaCare ruling as far off in the distance and (are) not cutting Chief Justice Roberts a lot of slack.”


Most court watchers expect Roberts to again side with the conservatives on the remaining hot-button cases. They include assessing the constitutionality of the president’s recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board and the challenge by business owners who say they’ll be forced to violate their religious beliefs if they are required to provide employees cost-free access to contraceptives they believe can trigger abortions.


Given his pro-free speech votes on campaign finance, Wydra said she thinks Roberts could be critical in the Health and Human Services contraceptive mandate case. “We could see him taking the court in a new direction in the Hobby Lobby case, recognizing a First Amendment free exercise right for corporations or business owners to press religious claims in the field of employee protections and health care provisions in this case,”Wydra said.


Dupree is cautions, however, “Just when we think we’ve gotten very confident in how we think these cases are going to come out, particularly these end of the term cases, there’s always a curveball or two in there,” he said.


The Court’s remaining opinions are due by the end of June.       

More from Federal Courts and Nominations

Federal Courts and Nominations
January 17, 2024

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights Sign-On Letter Prioritizing Diverse Judges

Dear Senator, On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and the...
Federal Courts and Nominations
July 31, 2023

Liberal justices earn praise for ‘independence’ on Supreme Court, but Thomas truly stands alone, expert says

Fox News
Some democrats compare Justice Clarence Thomas to ‘Uncle Tom’ and house slave in ‘Django Unchained’
By: Elizabeth B. Wydra, By Brianna Herlihy
Federal Courts and Nominations
July 7, 2023

In Her First Term, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson ‘Came to Play’

The New York Times
From her first week on the Supreme Court bench in October to the final day...
By: Elizabeth B. Wydra, by Adam Liptak
Federal Courts and Nominations
July 8, 2023

The Supreme Court’s continuing march to the right

Major legal rulings that dismantled the use of race in college admissions, undermined protections for...
By: Elizabeth B. Wydra, by Tierney Sneed
Federal Courts and Nominations
June 25, 2023

Federal judge defends Clarence Thomas in new book, rejects ‘pot shots’ at Supreme Court

A federal appeals court judge previously on short lists for the Supreme Court is taking the rare...
By: Elizabeth B. Wydra
Federal Courts and Nominations
May 1, 2023

Supreme Court, done with arguments, turns to decisions

Roll Call
The justices have released opinions at a slow rate this term, and many of the...
By: Brianne J. Gorod, By Michael Macagnone