Chief Justice John Roberts is definitely not a liberal: he oversaw the impeachment case in the senate, swore Trump in as president, and voted against abortion on numerous occasions. But on June 29th, he sided with the liberal bloc to shut down a restrictive Louisiana abortion law that could’ve left Louisiana with a single clinic.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany called the ruling “unfortunate” and railed against Justice Roberts for siding with the liberal minority for the third time in recent weeks.
Can we call Roberts a new representative of the anti-Trump bloc of the Republican party? Here’s some of its most prominent members.
Does anybody remember this viral encounter?
“I can’t trust Obama, I have read about him and he’s not… he’s not… he’s an Arab. And…” — McCain Supporter
“No ma’am. He’s a decent family man, citizen, that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues” — John McCain
It’s hard to think of a presidential nominee defending his opponent in the context of today’s political scene while statements like Nasty Woman, Morbidly Obese, and Sleepy Joe dominate the rhetoric of today’s elections. But John McCain made it a point to respect his opponents even if it didn’t agree with his political strategy. Heck, Obama spoke at his funeral.
This political practice presents a stark contrast with the man who currently represents the Republican Party, which McCain made clear. Even during Trump’s campaign, McCain was not the typical supporter. He refused to attend the 2016 Republican National Convention and was recorded criticizing the president over numerous issues.
After the Access Hollywood Tape was released, McCain even pulled his support for Trump, an unprecedented move for a former presidential nominee. But his opposition to the president didn’t stop there.
Over the first year of Trump’s presidency, McCain issued a series of condemnations on the Trump administration’s foreign policy from Yemen to Australia.
Then, the “no” vote happened: on a Republican-written bill that could’ve repealed Obamacare, McCain joined Republican Senators Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins in voting against the bill. The bill failed 49–51, infuriating the President, who attacked McCain on various qualifications. It’s wasn’t surprising to many that McCain didn’t invite Trump to his funeral.
Mitt Romney, another former presidential nominee, has taken the national spotlight on multiple occasions due to his clear defiance of Trump.
But Romney hasn’t been the biggest fan of Trump for a while. In March 2016, Romney delivered a speech in Utah warning conservatives that Trump, the frontrunner at the time, would not be the best representative of the Republican Party. He called Trump a “fraud” and encouraged voters to consider other alternatives: John Kasich, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio. Ultimately, Trump won.
Romney then had a massive turn-around: on multiple occasions, both the President and Romney assumed the facade of having a “great relationship.” For a short period, Romney was on the list to become Secretary of State and praised Trump for his first year in office. This came to an end short after Romney became the senator from Utah (it’s worth mentioning that he did get Trump’s endorsement for it). I guess sometimes it doesn’t hurt to be politically expedient.
Romney campaigned on the idea that he would stand up to Trump on “substantial” issues. He did that and more.
Romney was especially critical of Trump’s actions on the Mueller trial, calling his actions “disturbing.” This may be why he ultimately supported witnesses during the impeachment trial and was the lone Republican to vote to convict Trump.
More recently, still, Romney marched in a Black Lives Matter protest, a movement Trump has framed as a terrorist movement.
Trump’s administration has long distributed much of the blame to Romney for Republican failures, calling him a Democratic asset. Romney hasn’t been shy in his rebuttal: he’s already said he won’t be supporting Trump this election.
I’m going to be honest with you: I don’t think it’s time to call Roberts anti-Trump. Only recently has he come into the view of many liberals hoping for a prominent anti-Trump conservative. Before these past few weeks, he hasn’t been the one to send that message. Why? He’s trying to play his cards.
By now, it’s clear that if the election were held today, Donald Trump would not win. I’m not trying to suggest that this means anything for November, but Trump is not starting off with a lead.
What does this exactly mean for conservatives that weren’t the greatest fan of our president? They need to distance themselves. Let me explain with two of John Roberts most recent “liberal” rulings.
June Medical vs. Russo
This case basically comes down to one question: should the Supreme Court uphold precedent? In fact, this was the reason that Roberts said he voted to shut down the Louisiana law. Instead of pulling a political stunt, he said that precedent should be followed.
This does not mean that Roberts is pro-choice. His rulings on a nearly identical 2016 case prove that: he is aiming to curtail abortion in the United States. Still, it does suggest one thing: he is showing the president that a conservative-majority court does not mean a Trump-majority court.
Department of Homeland Security vs. Regents of the University of California
It’s no secret that Trump is not a fan of illegal immigrants. His support for this case was on the basis that the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program was not legal and the government should have the right to deport so-called “dreamers.” Roberts, once again, voted against his party’s president.
The outcry from conservative lawmakers was enormous:
“Sadly, over recent years, more and more Chief Justice Roberts has been playing games with the court to achieve the policy outcomes he desires” — Ted Cruz
“If the chief justice believes his political judgment is so exquisite, I invite him to resign, travel to Iowa, and get elected” — Tom Cotton
And yet, I don’t think this was even meant to spite President Trump. Look at Ted Cruz’s fellow Texas senator:
“We need to take action and pass legislation that will unequivocally allow these young men and women to stay in the only home, in the only country, they’ve known” — John Cornyn
My point is this: Roberts might not be part of the anti-Trump sect of the Republican party. His values align with those of many conservatives, especially those from the Bush era that he was nominated in.
Even though his recent decisions seem to be on the liberal side, it’s not like he’s a liberal: he’s taking his place as a swing vote on supposedly balanced court. I will say this: he is undoubtedly distancing himself from the president. But he is not anti-Trump. At least not yet.