The Volokh Conspiracy
Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent
On May 29, 2020, Chief Justice Roberts wrote a brief concurring opinion in South Bay United Pentecostal Church v. Newsom. This thinly-reasoned statement soon became a super precedent. At this point, the Chief was at the apogee of his power. What a difference five months makes. Moments ago, the Supreme Court decided Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn v. Cuomo. By a 5-4 vote, the Court issued an injunction against New York's restrictions on houses of worship. Chief Justice Roberts wrote a solo dissent. He seemed to agree that the Petitioners would prevail on the merits, but would not have granted the injunction for other reasons.
For the past week, I wondered whether Roberts would pivot to the right to control the majority, or stick to his guns in dissent. Here, he did not flinch. I think this voting pattern will become far more pronounced over this term, and in future terms. Mark your calendars. On Thanksgiving, 2020, the New Roberts Court has arrived.
I will have much more to say about the merits of the decision in subsequent blog posts.