Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett's confirmation may elevate a critic of Chief Justice John Roberts to the High Court.
Democrats are concentrating on Barrett's apparent criticisms of Roberts's Affordable Care Act opinions ahead of her confirmation hearings, which begin Monday. Yet Barrett's scholarly writings hint at a much deeper disagreement with the chief justice's stewardship of the Court. In a pair of law review articles, she questioned whether judges can effectively protect the legitimacy of the courts by deciding cases with an eye toward public confidence.
Though Roberts is never mentioned by name, her critiques straightforwardly apply to the man whose career on the Court is most defined by reputation-burnishing.
The articles portend the challenges awaiting the chief justice should Barrett join the Court. Anthony Kennedy's retirement momentarily made Roberts the most powerful chief justice of modern times. He holds together the fifth vote in divisive cases, the right to assign majority opinions, and the power to set the terms of practically every consequential decision. In Barrett, he may soon have a colleague whose written record seeds doubts about the equilibrium he has carefully curated for years.