John Roberts Conservative Long Game?

Recently, Terry Gross interviewed The New York Times‘ Supreme Court Correspondant, Adam Liptak, on NPR’s Fresh Air. Liptak and Gross discuss the High Court’s recent term, specifically the gay marriage cases and Liptak’s new e-book about gay rights.  Liptak also argues that Chief Justice John Roberts is playing a conservative long game, allowing liberal short term victories in order to ensure eventual conservative goals.  

Here is a description of the interview: 

Last week, the Supreme Court wrapped up its eighth term under Chief Justice John Roberts, in which it handed down historic opinions on gay marriage, the Voting Rights Act and genetic patenting. Adam Liptak, who covers the court for The New York Times, says that in the years Roberts has led the court, the chief justice’s patient and methodical approach has allowed him to establish a robustly conservative record.

“I see him planting seeds in cases where he may get a large majority, including the court’s liberal wing, to sign on to short-term victories today that could result [in] long-term losses for the left tomorrow,” Liptak tells Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross.

The most notable example of this happened just last week, Liptak says. Drawing on language all eight justices had agreed to in a Voting Rights Act case four years ago, Roberts led the court in gutting a key section of the 1965 law, which addressed voting discrimination. The decision struck down a formula that was used to determine which jurisdictions needed federal approval before changing their voting rules. That freed nine states, mostly in the South, from federal oversight and ostensibly returned the issue to Congress.

On July 9, The New York Times and Byliner will publish an e-book by Liptak calledTo Have and Uphold: The Supreme Court and the Battle for Same-Sex Marriage.

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July 4, 2013 · 12:43 pm

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