Roberts a pivotal vote in the Supreme Court's big opinions

U.S. Court News

The biggest cases of the Supreme Court term so far have a surprising common thread. On a court with five Republican appointees, the liberal justices have been in the majority in rulings that make workplace discrimination against gay and transgender people illegal, protect young immigrants from deportation and, as of Monday, struck down a Louisiana law that restricted abortion providers.

As surprising, Chief Justice John Roberts, a conservative nominated by President George W. Bush who has led the court for nearly 15 years, has joined his liberal colleagues in all three. Since the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy in 2018, Roberts has played a pivotal role in determining how far the court will go in cases where the court's four liberals and four conservatives are closely divided.

Here's a look at where Roberts stood in the abortion, immigration and LGBT cases, his history on the court and what's at stake in coming decisions in which Roberts could play a key role:

On Monday, Roberts joined liberal justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan in striking down Louisiana's Act 620. The justices ruled that the law requiring doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals violates the abortion rights the court first announced in the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

But Roberts' reason for siding with the liberals had less to do with his feelings on abortion than with his feelings on whether the court should do an abrupt about-face. Four years ago the court's four liberal members and Justice Kennedy struck down a Texas law nearly identical to Louisiana's. At the time, Roberts was a vote in dissent. But with Kennedy's retirement and replacement by conservative Justice Brett Kavanaugh, many conservatives had hoped the result in the Louisiana case would be different. Not so, Roberts wrote: “The result in this case is controlled by our decision four years ago."

Related listings

  • Top Manhattan prosecutor leaves job after standoff with Barr

    Top Manhattan prosecutor leaves job after standoff with Barr

    U.S. Court News 06/21/2020

    An extraordinary standoff between the Justice Department and Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman ended Saturday when the prosecutor agreed to leave his job with an assurance that his investigations into allies of President Donald Trump would n...

  • Court to weigh state’s request to close Carlisle auto show

    Court to weigh state’s request to close Carlisle auto show

    U.S. Court News 06/20/2020

    The state Health Department’s effort to shut down a large auto show in central Pennsylvania over claims it represents a risk to the public will be the subject of an emergency hearing, a state court said late Wednesday.The order from Commonwealt...

  • Trump administration takes Keystone dispute to Supreme Court

    Trump administration takes Keystone dispute to Supreme Court

    U.S. Court News 06/18/2020

    The Trump administration has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to revive a permit program that would allow the disputed Keystone XL pipeline and other new oil and gas pipelines to cross waterways with little review.Earlier this year, a Montana judge suspe...

New York Commercial Litigation Law Firm - Woods Lonergan PLLC

Founded in 1993 by Managing Partner James F. Woods, Woods Lonergan PLLC has built a strong reputation as a resourceful and industrious firm that provides clients with clear, concise, and straightforward answers to their most challenging legal issues. Partner Lawrence R. Lonergan, who joined the firm in 2008, has been a friend and colleague to Mr. Woods for over 40 years and shares the same business philosophy. Woods Lonergan PLLC’s collective experience and expertise enables the firm to expeditiously and effectively analyze the increasing challenges clients face in an evolving business and legal world, in many instances, avoiding unnecessary time and expense to our clients. Our mission is simple: provide cutting-edge expertise and sound advice in select areas of the law for corporate and business clients. We thrive on providing each client with personalized attention, forceful representation, and a collaborative team effort that embraces collective knowledge.