Tuesday, February 25, 2020


By Lauren N. Mordacq
Lauren N. Mordacq is a third-year law student at Albany Law School. Prior to attending law school, Lauren attended Robert Morris University (Illinois) and was a member of both the women’s softball and volleyball teams, while earning degrees in both Business Administration and Paralegal Studies.
While attending Albany Law School, Lauren has served as an intern to the Honorable Daniel J. Stewart and to the Honorable Christian F. Hummel, both federal magistrate judges for the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York. Additionally, she currently serves as the Executive Editor for Symposium for the Albany Law Review, Volume 83 and works as a teaching assistant for Professor Redwood’s Constitutional Law.
Upon graduation from Albany Law School in May, Lauren will be serving as an Appellate Court Attorney for the New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Third Department.

As one commentator has observed, “Chief Justice John Roberts’ recent votes with the liberal members of the Supreme Court have given rise to speculation he has become the court’s new swing vote, but court watchers say he has not suddenly moved to the Left.”

Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement from the Supreme Court has left an opening for another Justice to fill the void as a swing vote.  Over the last several years, Chief Justice John Roberts has dealt some major blows to the conservative agenda as a “swing vote” in 5-4 decisions involving “hot-button” issues.

Most notably, Roberts: (1) authored the opinion upholding the Affordable Care Act; (2) voted to block the Trump administration from adding a citizenship question to the census; (3) voted to block a Louisiana abortion law from going into effect; and (4) essentially voted to temporarily block a Trump administration asylum policy.  By siding with his liberal counterparts, some argue the Chief Justice is defending the integrity of the Court and preventing a partisan process.  Others simply say this is the Roberts practicing judicial restraint.

Maybe the Chief Justice is doing his best to do equal right in his role as the Supreme Court’s leader, and that means being the “swing vote” when the situation calls for it.  Chief Justice Roberts appears to be somewhat of an enigma in terms of his judicial philosophy, inasmuch as he has demonstrated his belief in not having one. But maybe that is his greatest strength.

In his role as the Court’s leader, he has become its legitimizer and defender when its integrity has been called into question by siding with liberal Justices in attempts to de-politicize the Court. With a solidified conservative majority on the Court, we could see an interesting voting record from the Chief Justice in the coming months on “hot-button” issues in an effort to lower political tensions and secure faith in the judicial system.  
To read the paper, open HERE.