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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.
Josh Blackman is a constitutional law professor at the South Texas College of Law Houston, an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute, and the President of the Harlan Institute. Follow him @JoshMBlackman.
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You gotta to love a country that protects the rights of Satanists to worship Satan as they see fit—I love America!!
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