Understanding John Roberts: A Conservative Institutionalist Concerned with Durability of the Law and Respect for the Court

Jurist Commentary

Stuart M. Gerson, Member of the Firm in the Litigation and Health Care & Life Sciences practices, in the firm’s Washington, DC, and New York offices, authored an article in Jurist Commentary, titled “Understanding John Roberts: A Conservative Institutionalist Concerned with Durability of the Law and Respect for the Court.”

Following is an excerpt:

Many practitioners, to say nothing of members of the press, recently have come to ask: “What’s up with John Roberts? Has he become a liberal?” This, of course, started with National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, where the Chief Justice voted with the four liberal justices to uphold the Affordable Care Act. But it has continued, for example, in the two recent Trump subpoena cases rejecting the President’s exaggerated claim of Executive Branch immunity and in the two Louisiana cases, striking down certain abortion provider regulations.

No liberal by any means, and much more a conservative in the traditional jurisprudential sense of the term, Roberts is, at the ground, an institutionalist concerned with the durability of the law and the maintenance of respect for the Court. He strives to have the Court decide cases on the narrowest grounds possible and that create the least dislocation to the coordinate branches of government and the generally-accepted expectations of the citizenry. The 2019 term just concluded, has shown him to have succeeded remarkably in achieving that end.

Related reading:

SCOTUSblog's Monday, August 3, 2020, Round-Up, by James Romoser:

At Jurist, Stuart Gerson looks in depth at Chief Justice John Roberts’ role in the court’s 2019-20 decisions, concluding that Roberts is “an institutionalist concerned with the durability of the law and the maintenance of respect for the Court.”