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The Roberts Court (April 2017 - Present)
Front row (left to right): "Ruth Bader Ginsburg, "Anthony Kennedy, "John Roberts (Chief Justice), "Clarence Thomas, and "Stephen Breyer. Back row (left to right): "Elena Kagan, "Samuel A. Alito, "Sonia Sotomayor, and "Neil Gorsuch

The Roberts Court is the time since 2005 during which the "Supreme Court of the United States has been led by "Chief Justice "John G. Roberts. It is generally considered more conservative than the preceding "Rehnquist Court, as a result of the retirement of moderate Justice "Sandra Day O'Connor and the subsequent confirmation of the more conservative Justice "Samuel Alito in her place.[1]



Roberts was originally "nominated by President "George W. Bush to replace Associate Justice "Sandra Day O'Connor, who had decided to retire from the Court, effective with the confirmation of her successor. However, before the Senate could act upon Roberts' nomination to be an Associate Justice, Chief Justice "William Rehnquist died, and President Bush nominated Roberts for the Chief Justice vacancy. Roberts' nomination as Chief Justice was confirmed by the Senate in 2005. Roberts took the "Constitutional "oath of office, administered by senior Associate Justice "John Paul Stevens at the "White House, on September 29, 2005, almost immediately after his confirmation. On October 3, Roberts took the judicial oath provided for by the "Judiciary Act of 1789, prior to the first oral arguments of the 2005 term. The Roberts Court commenced with Roberts as Chief Justice and eight holdovers from the "Rehnquist Court: Stevens, O'Connor, "Antonin Scalia, "Anthony Kennedy, "David Souter, "Clarence Thomas, "Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and "Stephen Breyer.

President Bush "nominated "Samuel Alito (after the withdrawal of Bush's first nominee, "White House Counsel "Harriet Miers) to replace O'Connor, and he was confirmed in January 2006. In 2009, President "Barack Obama "nominated "Sonia Sotomayor to replace Souter, and in 2010 Obama "nominated "Elena Kagan to replace Stevens. Justice Scalia died in February 2016, and in March 2016 Obama "nominated Merrick Garland. Garland's nomination was never considered by the Senate, and in January 2017, President "Donald Trump "appointed "Neil Gorsuch to replace Scalia. Democrats in the Senate filibustered the Gorsuch nomination, but after the Republicans exercised the ""nuclear option", Gorsuch was confirmed in April 2017.

Neil Gorsuch Elena Kagan Sonia Sotomayor Samuel Alito Stephen Breyer Ruth Bader Ginsburg Clarence Thomas David Souter Anthony Kennedy Antonin Scalia Sandra Day O'Connor John Paul Stevens John Roberts

Chief Justice Associate Justice

Rulings of the Court[edit]

In its first ten years, the Roberts court has issued major rulings on "gun control, "affirmative action, "campaign finance regulation, "abortion, "capital punishment, "gay rights, and "criminal sentencing. Major decisions of the Roberts Court include:[2][3]

Judicial philosophy[edit]

The Roberts Court has been described as "conservative in most cases, liberal in some," with (prior to the death of Justice Scalia) five conservative-leaning justices and four liberal-leaning justices. Alito, Thomas, Kennedy, Roberts, and Scalia (prior to his death) generally have taken more conservative positions, while Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan have generally taken more liberal positions. Souter and Stevens had also been part of the liberal bloc prior to their respective retirements. These two blocs of voters have lined up together in several major cases, though Justice Kennedy has often sided with the liberal bloc. Roberts has also served as a swing vote, often advocating for narrow rulings and compromise among the two blocs of Justices.[3][5] Though the Court often does divide along ideological lines, attorney and "SCOTUSblog founder "Tom Goldstein has noted that many cases are decided 9-0 and that the individual judges hold a wide array of views.[6]

The judicial philosophy of Roberts on the Supreme Court has been assessed by leading court commentators including Jeffrey Rosen[7] and Marcia Coyle.[8] Although Roberts is identified as having a conservative judicial philosophy, his vote in "National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius (2012) upholding the constitutionality of the "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) has caused reflection in the press concerning the comparative standing of his conservative judicial philosophy compared to other sitting justices of conservative orientation; he is seen as having a more moderate conservative orientation, particularly when his vote to uphold the ACA is compared to "Rehnquist's vote in "Bush v. Gore.[9]

Regarding Roberts' contemporaneous peers on the bench, his judicial philosophy is seen as more moderate and conciliatory than that of "Antonin Scalia and "Clarence Thomas.[7][9] Unlike Scalia, Roberts has not indicated any particularly enhanced reading of "originalism or framer's intentions as has been plainly evident in Scalia's speeches and writings.[8] Roberts' strongest inclination on the Court has been to attempt to re-establish the centrist orientation of the Court as being party neutral, in contrast to his predecessor Rehnquist who had devoted significant effort to promote a states rights orientation for the Court. Roberts' voting pattern reflecting his conservative judicial philosophy is most closely aligned to "Samuel Alito on the Court,[10] the latter of whom has also become associated with libertarian trends in the conservative judicial philosophy.[7]

List of Roberts Court opinions[edit]


  1. ^ Liptak, Adam (2010-07-24). "Court Under Roberts Is Most Conservative in Decades". New York Times. "New York, New York. Retrieved 2010-08-05. 
  2. ^ Chiusano, Scott (29 September 2015). "Landmark decisions during John Roberts' decade as Chief Justice". New York Daily News. Retrieved 25 February 2016. 
  3. ^ a b Wolf, Richard (29 September 2015). "Chief Justice John Roberts' Supreme Court at 10, defying labels". USA Today. Retrieved 25 February 2016. 
  4. ^ Liptak, Adam (18 May 2015). "Supreme Court Ruling Altered Civil Suits, to Detriment of Individuals". New York Times. Retrieved 3 March 2016. 
  5. ^ Fairfield, Hannah (26 June 2014). "A More Nuanced Breakdown of the Supreme Court". New York Times. Retrieved 25 February 2016. 
  6. ^ "Goldstein, Tom (June 30, 2010). "Everything you read about the Supreme Court is wrong (except here, maybe)". "SCOTUSblog. Retrieved July 7, 2010. 
  7. ^ a b c Rosen, Jeffrey (13 July 2012). "Big Chief". 
  8. ^ a b Marcia Coyle, The Roberts Court: The Struggle for the Constitution, 2013
  9. ^ a b Scalia, Antonin; "Garner, Bryan A. (2008) Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges (St. Paul: Thomson West) "ISBN "978-0-314-18471-9.
  10. ^ "Which Supreme Court Justices Vote Together Most and Least Often". The New York Times. 24 June 2014. 

Further reading[edit]

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