Not Too Happy With the Roberts Court

Here’s a new book by Slate magazine writer Mark Joseph Stern about the Roberts Court. He seems to have some criticisms, and I have no doubt that some of them concern the Court’s religion clause jurisprudence. The book is American Justice 2019: The Roberts Court Arrives (University of Pennsylvania Press).

“Following the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy and the controversial confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court plunged into a contentious term that featured divisive cases involving abortion, immigration, capital punishment, and voting rights on the court’s docket. In American Justice 2019, Mark Joseph Stern examines the term’s most controversial opinions and highlights the consequences of Chief Justice John Roberts stepping into a new role as the court’s swing vote.

No longer bound by Kennedy’s erratic moderation, Roberts has begun doling out victories to both Democrats and Republicans, albeit with a clear rightward tilt. Early in the term, Roberts delivered a public rebuke to Trump’s attacks on the judiciary, foreshadowing his refusal to tolerate some of the president’s most extreme contortions of the law. Stern tracks the chief justice’s evolution from staunch conservative to part-time centrist. Along the way, he details the term’s blockbusters and surprises, including an unlikely alliance between Justices Neil Gorsuch and Sonia Sotomayor on criminal justice, and an especially radical ruling on the death penalty that overturned decades of precedent. Stern’s account depicts a court sharply divided over its role in American democracy, with the man at its center striving to stay above the political fray without abandoning his conservative instincts.”

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