Her decision Monday to override a Louisiana regulation of abortion doctors affirms a 2016 decision, which she protested at the time, and continues to preserve a decades-old woman's constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy.
Although it did not join the legal reasoning of the four liberals, which likely sparked more litigation against abortion in the states, Roberts' move marked the first time he voted to overturn an abortion regulation.
Last week, Republican nominee George W. Bush, 65, cast the fifth fundamental vote to reject the removal by the Trump administration of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, the Obama-era initiative that protects young undocumented immigrants. He also voted to extend the United States' riot law to gay, lesbian, and transgender workers.
These recent actions reflect his broader choice, in the tumultuous moment of the coronavirus and the racial struggle under President Donald Trump this election year, to put the Supreme Court's institutional integrity on personal ideology.
Roberts, whose career in Washington dates back to the Reagan administration in the 1980s, has always had conservative instincts and social values. In very rare cases these ties have been broken.
Overall, it has issued conservative rulings, including restricting the scope of the Voting Rights Act, making it difficult to prevent possibly discriminatory electoral procedures before they take effect. He joined the majorities of five justices who produced Citizens United's 2010 decision to lift the limits on union and corporate money in elections and the 2008 decision declaring an individual Second Amendment right to bear arms.
For years, the only exception to his employer on the right wing was his 2012 decision to abide by the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, famous for the health insurance individual insurance requirement as a tax. .
On Monday, the White House quickly entered the fray, declaring that "unelected judges intruded on the sovereign prerogatives of state governments by imposing their own pro-abortion political preferences to override legitimate abortion safety standards."
Roberts's decision, however, offered the Trump administration and anti-abortion forces some comfort in moving forward on a legal standard that would weaken the justification for the 2016 precedent and improve states' ability to defend regulations in the future.
I previously tried to avoid focus
When Roberts presided over Trump's impeachment trial in the Senate earlier this year, he rejected Democratic efforts to allow witnesses and other evidence for a more substantive hearing. He tried to avoid being the center of attention for that trial and national controversy.
Now overseeing the final weeks of the annual superior court session, Roberts' employer shows that the strategic jurist has seriously recalibrated into the Trump era, a president who gave the court two new judges and seemed to consolidate a blockade 5- 4 conservative-liberal in the years to come.
Roberts's recent movements on topics of great cultural relevance are distinct and have variable legal significance. In the LGBTQ case, for example, Trump-appointed judge Neil Gorsuch cast the fifth deciding vote in the dispute over the interpretation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The immigration decision was similarly based on legal, non-constitutional reasoning, and may be revoked or altered in time by the Trump administration, or a Joe Biden administration.
Taken together, however, the new measures reveal that a supreme judge will try to stabilize the bank and is ready to take national leadership as the United States struggles with imperatives related to the coronavirus crisis and racial inequalities.
In the past, Roberts has offered broad statements about the place of the judiciary in the United States and its position in the judicial hierarchy. "You wonder if you're going to be John Marshall or you're going to be Roger Taney," he once said, referring, respectively, to the great president of justice known as the ancestor of judicial review and the chief who wrote the Dred Scott Decision that slaves were not citizens. "The answer is, of course, you certainly won't be John Marshall. But you want to avoid the danger of being Roger Taney."
Resolutions are often procedural and precedent
The views of Roberts who joined the court liberals in the past two weeks lacked language as lofty as his comments on Marshall and Taney. (He didn't even write a separate opinion in the LGBTQ case.)
Still, in Monday's abortion case, the man who is known for holding his cards close to his vest put his current priority on the table.
Previous decisions matter, even if he was not part of those decisions. Adherence to precedence is important to stability in the law, perhaps, you might have been thinking, especially in such unstable times.
"I joined the dissent at Whole Woman & # 39; s Health and I still believe the case was wrongly decided," he wrote Monday. "However, the question today is not whether Whole Woman's Health was right or wrong, but whether to abide by it in deciding this case."
That echoed Roberts' sentiment in the dispute over young undocumented immigrants.
"We do not decide whether DACA or its termination are sound policies. The wisdom of those decisions is not our concern. We only address whether the agency complied with the procedural requirement that it provide a reasoned explanation of its action." He discovered that the administration did not.
Following that ruling, Republican Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas stated, "John Roberts again positions himself as a Solomon who will save our institutions from political controversy and responsibility." He added: "If the Chief Justice believes that his impeachment is so exquisite, I invite him to resign, travel to Iowa and be elected. I suspect that voters will find his strange views no more convincing than the judges of principle in the Cut". "
However, Roberts has not undergone a liberal transformation. When he voted against the abortion restriction in Louisiana on Monday, he also took the lead, over the dissenting liberal judges, to reduce the independence of a law enforcement agency created to protect consumers against unfair and deceptive practices. The country is likely to see another 5-4 divisions, with Roberts and conservatives prevailing, before the annual session ends in the coming days.
Earlier in his career as a government attorney, Roberts had defended abortion regulations and questioned the validity of abortion rights benchmarks.
But Monday was not about Roberts' past, but, as he promoted the precedent, the Supreme Court's past.