Maybe Josh Hawley should incorporate a Second Amendment pledge into his new SCOTUS litmus test too. Sounds like we might need it going forward.
Anthony Kennedy is the post-Souter gold standard for undependable Republican appointees but Kennedy at least had a discernible ideology. He was a libertarian. Roberts, I think, might best be described as a right-leaning institutionalist, which makes him less predictable because you’re never sure to what extent his decisions are being guided by legal philosophy or institutional prerogatives. Did he end up on the liberal side in Louisiana’s abortion case because he agreed with pro-choicers on the merits or did he end up there because the left is poised to take power next year and there’s an appetite among some of them to pack the Court? The more Roberts signals his willingness to vote with the Democratic bloc on some culture-war cases, the less urgent the progressive effort to “Avenge Merrick!” by adding justices to the bench becomes.
If that’s unfair to Roberts, all I can tell you is that anyone who’s read the reports of him switching his vote after deliberations on landmark cases can never look at him the same way afterward. It’s been alleged that he frets about the Court being seen as just another hyperpartisan branch of government, undeserving of the respect it traditionally enjoys as a “neutral” arbiter of legal questions. A 5-4 conservative majority voting in lockstep on all major issues would reinforce those perceptions so Roberts supposedly divvies up his deciding votes between the conservative and liberal blocs to maintain the illusion that law, not politics, is driving decisions.