Sunday, June 28, 2015

Antonin Scalia Is No John Roberts

It was notable that Scalia’s opinion ridiculing Kennedy’s writing in the same-sex marriage case was endorsed by Thomas and Alito, but not by Roberts. In fact, Roberts did not sign on to any of his colleagues’ dissents ...

“I would be shocked if Roberts ever got near the invective that Scalia uses,” [University of Texas professor Lucas] Powe said.

Regarding tone, some prominent liberals also appreciated Roberts’s restraint—and reasoning—in his dissent in the same-sex marriage case, even though he ultimately rejected the notion of a constitutional right to marry for gays and lesbian couples.

“The two best opinions Roberts has written on the court are his opinion in the Obamacare and gay marriage cases,” said Walter Dellinger, who served as acting solicitor general in the Clinton administration. “While I don’t agree with his bottom line in the same-sex marriage case, he wrote the most respectful and best-reasoned argument for allowing the democratic process to run its course. None of the advocates defending bans on same-sex marriage at the court came close to articulating as good an argument as Chief Justice Roberts.”

Dellinger said he was struck by the difference in tone between Alito and Roberts. “Alito could barely contain his anger and foresees people opposing gay rights being marginalized and discriminated against themselves, whereas Roberts speaks with great sympathy of the desire of gay people to be married,” Dellinger said.

Supreme Court Justices Stop Playing Nice