Roberts Court

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The Roberts Court, October 2010
Back row (left to right): Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen G. Breyer, Samuel A. Alito, and Elena Kagan. Front row (left to right): Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, Chief Justice John Roberts, Anthony Kennedy, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg

The Roberts Court refers to the Supreme Court of the United States since 2005, under the leadership of Chief Justice John G. Roberts. It is generally considered more conservative than the preceding Rehnquist Court, as a result of the retirement of moderate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and the subsequent confirmation of the more conservative Justice Samuel Alito in her place.[1] Both Sotomayor and Kagan have joined the Court since that time.

Rulings of the Court

In its first ten years, the Roberts court has issued major rulings on gun control, affirmative action, campaign finance regulation, abortion, capital punishment, gay rights, and criminal sentencing.

After the death of Chief Justice William Rehnquist, Roberts was nominated by President George W. Bush, who had previously nominated him to replace Sandra Day O'Connor. The U.S. Senate confirmed his nomination by a vote of 78–22.

Roberts took the Constitutional oath of office, administered by senior Associate Justice John Paul Stevens at the White House, on September 29, 2005, almost immediately after his confirmation. On October 3, he took the judicial oath provided for by the Judiciary Act of 1789, prior to the first oral arguments of the 2005 term.

Judicial philosophy

The judicial philosophy of Roberts on the Supreme Court has been assessed by leading court commentators including Jeffrey Rosen[2] and Marcia Coyle.[3] Although Roberts is identified as having a conservative judicial philosophy, his vote in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius (2012) upholding the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) has caused reflection in the press concerning the comparative standing of his conservative judicial philosophy compared to other sitting justices of conservative orientation. Roberts is also compared to other recent conservative justices no longer on the Court. Regarding William Rehnquist, Roberts is seen as having a more moderate conservative orientation particularly when Bush v. Gore for Rehnquist is compared to Roberts' vote for ACA.[4]

Regarding Roberts' immediate and current peers on the bench, his judicial philosophy is seen as more moderate and conciliatory than that of Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.[2][4] Unlike Scalia, Roberts has not indicated any particularly enhanced reading of originalism or framer's intentions as has been plainly evident in Scalia's speeches and writings.[3] Roberts' strongest inclination on the Court has been to attempt to re-establish the centrist orientation of the Court as being party neutral, in contrast to his predecessor Rehnquist who had devoted significant effort to promote a states rights orientation for the Court. Roberts' voting pattern reflecting his conservative judicial philosophy is most closely aligned to Samuel Alito on the Court,[5] the latter of whom has also become associated with libertarian trends in the conservative judicial philosophy.[2]

Leading decisions for annual terms

Since 2005, there have been a number of Supreme Court cases decided by the Roberts Court:


  1. Liptak, Adam (2010-07-24). "Court Under Roberts Is Most Conservative in Decades". New York Times. New York, New York. Retrieved 2010-08-05.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2
  3. 3.0 3.1 Marcia Coyle, The Roberts Court: The Struggle for the Constitution, 2013
  4. 4.0 4.1 Scalia, Antonin; Garner, Bryan A. (2008) Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges (St. Paul: Thomson West) ISBN 978-0-314-18471-9.