The Corner

The Unseen But Very Real Hand of Chief Justice Roberts

I’ll be very interested in what Ed Whelan, among others, thinks about this, but I think today’s child-porn decision (Kathryn referenced it here) is yet another indication that Chief Justice Roberts is working very hard to achieve a more collegial Supreme Court and — the important part — to bring Justice Kennedy back onto the reservation.  The 7-2 vote makes the case seem like a lay-up.  It wasn’t.  In 2002, Justice Kennedy wrote the majority opinion in Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition, which invalidated parts of the Child Pornography Act of 1996 — the majority justices fretted that the act’s prohibitions relating to images of children forced to engage in sex acts would be applied to suppress adaptations of Romeo and Juliet.  Today Justice Kennedy is in the majority.  Yes, it’s a somewhat easier case (reliably liberal Justices Stevens and Breyer are in the majority too).  But I think it’s a hopeful sign.

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