“In the future, John Roberts could be the Supreme Court’s swing vote”

I have written this oped for the LA Times. It begins:

Even before the Senate confirmed Neil Gorsuch as a justice of the Supreme Court, and before it “nuked” the filibuster for nominees, the Trump administration and conservatives were already plotting to fill the next vacancy. Indeed, they have made overtures to swing Justice Anthony M. Kennedy to get him to feel comfortable with retirement. If Kennedy goes, or if a liberal justice gets sick or dies, Democrats have few levers to stop Republicans from confirming a nominee even more conservative than Gorsuch. The future, then, holds a Supreme Court where Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. is the swing vote — a scary eventuality for progressives….

Sad as it may be, liberals may have no choice but to put faith in Roberts as a political actor. With Justices Samuel A. Alito Jr., Clarence Thomas, Gorsuch and another hard conservative to his right, Roberts could calculate that overturning Roe vs. Wade — and turning the abortion question over to the states — would actually be disastrous for the Republican Party. Suddenly every state election would become a battle over abortion, and many apathetic liberals could turn into motivated ones. Granted, Roberts would almost certainly not fight to save Roe — but he might vote to kill it with 1,000 cuts rather than overturn it outright.

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