From reading the coverage, I think I’m supposed to be outraged at this, but I think it actually falls into the “too little, too late” category.
Yesterday, Vice President Mike Pence gave an interview to Christian Broadcasting Network reporter David Brody. In the interview, Pence expressed misgivings about the decisions that Roberts has been a party to this past term. There were the natural and predictable protests of “how dare he criticize the Chief Justice” and insinuations that he was somehow coercing Roberts on future cases.
This was the setup. Brody asked, “Are you scratching your head a little bit on John Roberts. I mean, we’re not going to call him David Souter at this point, but…”
This is Pence’s reply:
Look, we have great respect for the institution of the Supreme Court of the United States. But Chief Justice John Roberts has been a disappointment to conservatives — whether it be the Obamacare decision, or whether it be a spate of recent decisions all the way through Calvary Chapel.
I’m not an ordained Supreme Court Watcher, but it seems to me that Roberts has been going out of his way to stick his thumb in the eye of conservatives and the president. The Calvary Chapel decision was actually at odds with previous Supreme Court rulings this term and was the fifth vote in a ruling that actually declared that a state government could establish different and more lenient rules for gambling casinos than churches during this time of Pandemic Porn when the correct answer is actually that the state may not establish any rules for any church (READ John Roberts Declares That Gambling Has More Constitutional Protection Than Religious Freedom). It is difficult to see the last term as anything more than a slightly mitigated disaster for conservatives and, by extension, for the country. Abortion rights were protected. We found out that a mere memo by a former cabinet secretary can’t be changed without jumping through all kinds of hoops. The multi-lettered community received special protections from being fired that aren’t generally applicable to a lot of us.
Some look at this and see some multi-dimensional chess where Roberts gave the left somethings that didn’t matter in order to build comity and prevent the Court from being a 5-4 court until the actuarial tables kick in. But the idea that any of the progressives on the court are going to vote with Roberts against the interests of the left because he’s a nice guy is just nucking futs.
I think a better explanation of what is going on it that Roberts doesn’t like Trump. He doesn’t like how Trump is using the Federalist Society to vet nominees. He doesn’t want the Supreme Court to be seen as a partisan instrument lest the Democrats win in November and proceed to add another half-dozen justices to that court. What we’re seeing are the actions of a man who is more focused on protecting institutional prerogatives and protecting his own influence that he will happily sell out and principles he holds in order to curry favor with who he thinks will be his new masters.