Colin Kidd, 24 March 2022
Chief Justice John Roberts fears a future radical Democrat administration bent on reforming an anomalous institution. The court, he seems to feel, shouldn’t be too far out of step with public opinion, which is the reason – possibly against his own deeper inclinations – his was the swing vote that upheld Obamacare, a betrayal that alienated his fellow conservatives on the court. In the meantime, Joe Biden has nominated Justice Stephen Breyer’s replacement, Ketanji Brown Jackson, who would be the first Black woman justice on the court. During Breyer’s last session the court is set to rule on a Mississippi law banning almost all abortions after fifteen weeks of pregnancy. With six conservatives on the nine-person court, Roberts knows that another prudent defection on his part will not be enough to save Roe. But he might entice one of the conservative justices into supporting a less provocative outcome: further hollowing out Roe without explicitly overturning the constitutional right to abortion.