February 8, 2019

For Roberts, Precedent and Perception Rule

The chief justice joined the left wing in blocking an abortion law, reversing his own previous position.

Chief Justice John Roberts is quite sensitive about the public perception of not just the Supreme Court but also lower courts. Ironically, his preference for prioritizing precedent or perception concerns when deciding cases leads him to make some activist rulings. Such was the case in 2012 when he single-handedly rewrote ObamaCare in order to save it. The same considerations seem to have guided Roberts when he joined the Court’s left wing in yesterday’s ruling temporarily blocking a Louisiana abortion law.

His own precedent makes that plain. Fox News reports, “The Louisiana law is virtually identical to a Texas measure the justices struck down three years ago by a 5-3 vote, shortly after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Roberts dissented in that case, when he was not the deciding vote, and sided with the conservative minority that wanted to uphold the anti-abortion law — making his decision on Thursday a significant reversal.”

That report continues, “The justices decided in a 5-4 vote on Thursday, with Roberts as the swing vote, that they will not allow Louisiana to put into effect a law that requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. The Supreme Court is set to issue a final ruling on the merits of the case later, and Thursday’s majority ruling did not spell out a rationale.”

While Democrat-dominated states like New York are passing laws that greatly liberalize abortion options and Senate Democrats are blocking Republican efforts to protect the almost-born, many conservative states have spent recent decades passing various levels of restriction in part to test the legal limits of Roe v. Wade. In other words, what exactly constitutes an “undue burden” on the “constitutional right” to an abortion?

Justice Brett Kavanaugh took the time to write a dissent, even though this technically wasn’t a full ruling. “The parties have offered, in essence, competing predictions” about the law’s real-world consequences, Kavanaugh wrote. “If we denied the stay [and allowed the law to be implemented], that question could be readily and quickly answered without disturbing the status quo or causing harm to the parties or the affected women, and without this court’s further involvement.”

Naturally, leftists are still losing their minds over Kavanaugh’s very presence on the Court, never mind his opinions. And that fact has only exacerbated Roberts’s penchant for opposing whatever he deems is the political sentiment in need of being checked.

Remember, it was after Kavanaugh’s confirmation despite outlandish Democrat mudslinging that Roberts denounced politicizing the courts — by President Donald Trump. Roberts said nothing about the appalling treatment Kavanaugh endured, but he took the unprecedented step of rebuking Trump for rightly calling someone “an Obama judge.” Upholding precedent has its merits, and Roberts arguably was justified in preventing the Fifth Circuit Court from sidestepping previous Supreme Court precedent. Yet Roberts’s attitude regarding perception has already caused him to sometimes become the very kind of partisan judge he says doesn’t exist.

Start a conversation using these share links:

Who We Are

The Patriot Post is a highly acclaimed weekday digest of news analysis, policy and opinion written from the heartland — as opposed to the MSM’s ubiquitous Beltway echo chambers — for grassroots leaders nationwide. More

What We Offer

On the Web

We provide solid conservative perspective on the most important issues, including analysis, opinion columns, headline summaries, memes, cartoons and much more.

Via Email

Choose our full-length Digest or our quick-reading Snapshot for a summary of important news. We also offer Cartoons & Memes on Monday and Alexander’s column on Wednesday.

Our Mission

The Patriot Post is steadfast in our mission to extend the endowment of Liberty to the next generation by advocating for individual rights and responsibilities, supporting the restoration of constitutional limits on government and the judiciary, and promoting free enterprise, national defense and traditional American values. We are a rock-solid conservative touchstone for the expanding ranks of grassroots Americans Patriots from all walks of life. Our mission and operation budgets are not financed by any political or special interest groups, and to protect our editorial integrity, we accept no advertising. We are sustained solely by you. Please support The Patriot Fund today!

The Patriot Post and Patriot Foundation Trust, in keeping with our Military Mission of Service, are proud sponsors of the National Medal of Honor Heritage Center, the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, Folds of Honor, Honoring the Sacrifice, Warrior Freedom Service Dogs, Officer Christian Fellowship, the Air University Foundation, the Naval War College Foundation, and the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation.


“Our cause is noble; it is the cause of mankind!” —George Washington

Join us in prayer for our nation, that good and righteous national leaders would rise and prevail, and that division would be healed so we would be united as Americans. We pray also for the protection of our military Patriots, first responders and their families, and comfort for veterans who are suffering.

The Patriot Post is protected speech, as enumerated in the First Amendment and enforced by the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, in accordance with the endowed and unalienable Rights of All Mankind.

Copyright © 2023 The Patriot Post. All Rights Reserved.

The Patriot Post does not support Internet Explorer. We recommend installing the latest version of Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, or Google Chrome.