DAILY MAIL.CO.UK – July 28, 2020 – The Supreme Court’s Chief Justice John Roberts has become the Court’s swing vote and is now influencing which cases don’t get picked up – including new ones on guns.
CNN’s Joan Biskupic, a longtime SCOTUS biographer, came out with a deep-dive about Roberts on Monday and reported that the court’s four conservative justices now believe that Roberts won’t be helpful to them on the issue of gun rights so have decided to steer clear of the issue.
Biskupic also said that it was Roberts who was calling the shots on how the Court would handle arguments amid the coronavirus pandemic, refusing to use video software like Zoom.
Instead the court held arguments over (the) telephone.
It was Roberts who came up with the plan for how the justices would question lawyers. In traditional court, justices can insert themselves at any moment and try to pick away at the presenter’s arguments. Not so for the COVID era, as justices took turns by seniority, with Roberts – as chief justice – going first. At the end of arguments, justices could ask follow-ups, which could get messy if several tried to speak up at once.
When Roberts joined liberals on the Supreme Court to preserve an Obama-era program shielding young undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children, he surprised some of his colleagues by voting against the Trump administration from the beginning, according to multiple sources familiar with the inner workings of the court.
New details obtained by CNN reveal how Roberts maneuvered on controversial cases in the justices’ private sessions, at times defying expectations as he sided with liberal justices. Roberts exerted unprecedented control over cases and the court’s internal operations, especially after the nine were forced to work in isolation because of Covid-19.
The chief justice, for the first time in his tenure on the court, voted to strike down a state law that would diminish access to abortion and, in a decision for the ages, rejected President Donald Trump’s extensive claims of “temporary presidential immunity.”
Roberts also sent enough signals during internal deliberations on firearms restrictions, sources said, to convince fellow conservatives he would not provide a critical fifth vote anytime soon to overturn gun control regulations. As a result, the justices in June denied several petitions regarding Second Amendment rights. [full article]