George W. Bush’s historical reputation seems to be sinking by the day, but John Roberts, his slick, smiling appointee as the Supreme Court’s chief justice, remains as an “enduring and faithful reflection of the Bush presidency,” writes Jeffrey Toobin in the New Yorker. Though Roberts promised a charmed Congress he’d practice with “modesty and humility,” he’s been a doctrinaire conservative more combative even than Antonin Scalia.
In every major case, Roberts has sided with the prosecution, the state, the executive branch or the corporation over less-powerful foes. His stated view of the court stands in direct opposite to President Obama’s. Obama has called for a justice with compassion; Roberts prefers a “legal perspective,” decrying the pre-Rehnquist court that expanded civil rights, strengthened church-state barriers and legalized abortion.