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Trump Is Running on the Courts Again. Should Biden Do the Same?

  • June 29, 2020

Brian Fallon, the executive director of Demand Justice, a progressive group, suggested that Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. understood as much — and was steering the court accordingly.

“These rulings are enough to convince a lot of people on the left that they should continue to play within the system and not offend sitting federal judges by calling them out as overly political,” he said. “In some sense, that is the exact game that Roberts is playing: to side with the liberals in just enough cases so the public misses the larger trend of this court’s rightward swerve.”

The chief justice has nonetheless angered many Republicans who appraise his tenure as a failure, recalling him siding with the court’s liberal wing in cases challenging core provisions of the Affordable Care Act. In the abortion ruling on Monday, he voted with the liberal justices but did not adopt their reasoning, saying that deference to precedent compelled him instead.

Some critics of Mr. Roberts hold high office: “Do you get the impression that the Supreme Court doesn’t like me?” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter this month.

Conservatives say that, if anything, the Roberts era has demonstrated the need for Mr. Trump to fill vacancies for another four years.

“Frustration with the chief justice and concern about the direction the courts were going was part of what galvanized conservatives in the first place to elect someone like Trump,” said Carrie Severino, president of the conservative Judicial Crisis Network.

By prizing “courage” in addition to credentials, Ms. Severino said, Mr. Trump’s approach “is almost designed to avoid a future John Roberts,” whom she accused of operating with politics in mind — in some ways echoing the charge of his progressive skeptics.

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