The New Yorker:

The Supreme Court often appears to exist in a world of abstractions. To pick just one example, what does a concept like “separation of powers” mean in the lives of most Americans? But three times in recent weeks, the Justices have issued concrete directives that have changed the world—and for the better. They held that it was unlawful to fire people simply because they are L.G.B.T.Q.; they prevented the Trump Administration from deporting seven hundred thousand young people, known as the Dreamers, who have lived virtually their entire lives as Americans; and they guaranteed that women in Louisiana will continue to have at least some access to abortion. And the Chief Justice, John G. Roberts, Jr., a conservative who was appointed to the Court fifteen years ago, by George W. Bush, voted in the majority in all three cases.

This, simply, is cause for celebration. But you wouldn’t know it from the reaction of many of those who follow the Court closely—and who agree with all three of Roberts’s votes. The headline on the Times’s editorial scolded, “John Roberts Is No Pro-Choice Hero,” and the piece intoned that Roberts “appears to have decided that the circumstances of this case were not ideal for crippling reproductive rights—but he left the door open to doing so in the future.” My friend Dahlia Lithwick, at Slate, wrote that what Roberts actually did was “cloak a major blow to the left in what appears to be a small victory for it.” Rather, she added, “Roberts is telling states wanting to impose all sort of needless regulations that it doesn’t matter if they are utterly without health benefits, so long as the burdens on women are not that bad.” The idea behind these views appears to be that Roberts’s vote to strike down these abortion restrictions was really just a move in a multi-dimensional chess game to allow other restrictions—and, ultimately, to overrule Roe v. Wade.

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