Magazine July 08, 2019, Issue

John Roberts: A Political Judge?

United States Chief Justice John G. Roberts (Jim Young/Reuters)
The Chief: The Life and Turbulent Times of Chief Justice John Roberts, by Joan Biskupic (Basic Books, 432 pp., $32)

America’s longstanding debate about the politicization of the judiciary is by now so familiar that we have lost sight of its enigmatic character. Practically everybody, left and right, agrees that courts should somehow be above politics. At the same time, however, practically everybody can point to numerous instances of what they sincerely regard as egregious examples of politicized judging — important cases that courts have determined according not to law but to the political preferences of the judges. It is strange to find a phenomenon that is apparently prevalent despite being almost universally condemned.

This enigmatic problem is illustrated by the

This article appears as “Inside an Enigma” in the July 8, 2019, print edition of National Review.

Carson HollowayMr. Holloway is a visiting scholar at the B. Kenneth Simon Center for Principles and Politics at the Heritage Foundation and the author of Hamilton versus Jefferson in the Washington Administration.

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