Chief Justice Roberts “Long Game”: Is the Chief Crazy Like a Fox?

Interesting pieceby Adam Liptak in the New York Times last week about John Roberts and the so-called “long game”. Liptak’s hypothesis is that Roberts is patiently planting seeds, quietly, with the acquiescence and often approval of the liberal justices, that will enable him to pull the Court to the right slowly over time:

The chief justice helped plant new seeds on Monday, when seven justices, including two liberals, agreed to sign an opinion that over time could restrict race-conscious admissions plans at colleges and universities. Only the senior member of the court’s liberal wing, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, filed a dissent.

Last year, in the second-biggest surprise of his decision upholding President Obama’s health care law, Chief Justice Roberts persuaded two liberal justices to join the part of his opinion allowing states to opt out of the law’s expansion of Medicaid. That ruling has added significant complications to the rollout of the law.

Only the justices know their motives and arrangements, but there is a pattern here. The price of victory today for liberals in the Roberts court can be pain tomorrow.Interesting theory. Time will tell if Liptak is right.


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