A Column about Nothing

by Ramesh Ponnuru

I’m struggling to see the point of Linda Greenhouse’s column over the weekend on “The Roberts Court, Version 4.0.” The factoid it’s built on: “Turnover on the Supreme Court has been unusually fast since John G. Roberts Jr. became chief justice five years ago, ending a period of 11 years with no change at all.” The alleged significance of the factoid: “As the court’s personnel shifts, so does its collective personality, inevitably but not necessarily predictably.”

And then we lose the thread. Maybe there have been “four Roberts Courts” in some sense beyond the trivial one that there have been four different line-ups on the Court. But Greenhouse doesn’t come close to establishing that there have been. As far as one can tell from reading the column, there have actually been two Roberts Courts: one with O’Connor and one with Alito. Which everyone already knew.

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