Roberts, Race, And Republicans

by Patrick Appel

Jeffrey Toobin profiles John G. Roberts. A taste:

The Chief Justice has not yet embraced one particular judicial principle as his special interestin the way that Rehnquist chose federalism and states’ rightsbut Roberts is clearly moved by the subject of race, as illustrated by his combative performance during the Texas and New Haven arguments. His concerns reflect the views that prevailed at the Reagan White House: that the government should ignore historical or even continuing inequities and never recognize or reward individuals on the basis of race. In a recent case, a majority of the Justices applied a provision of the Voting Rights Act to reject part of a Texas redistricting plan that was found to hurt Hispanic voters. Roberts dissented from that decision, writing, in an unusually direct expression of disgust, “It is a sordid business, this divvying us up by race.”

Another key graph:

In every major case since he became the nation’s seventeenth Chief Justice, Roberts has sided with the prosecution over the defendant, the state over the condemned, the executive branch over the legislative, and the corporate defendant over the individual plaintiff. Even more than Scalia, who has embodied judicial conservatism during a generation of service on the Supreme Court, Roberts has served the interests, and reflected the values, of the contemporary Republican Party.