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To the right, to the right

The Supreme Court's Justice John Roberts was nominated in 2005 by George W. Bush and is the youngest Chief Justice to serve SCOTUS in the last 100 years. Though nominated by a Republican and ideologically conservative, he does have a reputation of being a bit of a pragmatist, at times voting with the liberal justices on matters like healthcare. Now that Justice Kennedy has stepped down, the "swing vote" on the Supreme Court will move to Roberts, who will have the power to unilaterally settle cases that have split the court along ideological lines. That doesn't mean he'll always play mediator, though. Many are worried about the future of Roe v. Wade since Roberts is not a fan and has even drafted decisions that curtail a woman's right to choose. Gonzales v. Carhart, which he wrote the decision for, allows Congress to ban certain abortions.


How will he use his power as a swing voter?

Even though a 2015 survey show that Roberts had only an 18% approval rating among Republicans, that was likely because he ruled that year with the liberal justices on a case about Obamacare. For all other intents and purposes however, it looks like he's still hitting for the GOP, especially when it comes to abortion. Though he's refrained from making his personal views clear, he has helped write several briefs that say Roe should be overturned and in 2007, voted to uphold a late-term abortion ban. He was also in the minority on Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt, in which the Court ruled that states could not place an undue burden on a woman's access to abortion (Kennedy voted with the liberal justices on that one). Roberts also voted last month along with the Court's other Republican appointees to overturn a California law that regulated anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers. And it seems like his family's views are pretty clear as well, as his wife is involved in Feminists for Life, a group that opposes abortion.

Is there anything stopping him from overturning Roe?

In the past, Roberts has been concerned about the court's reputation, so he may be careful about making too many controversial changes to precedent. He's often encouraged justices to practice judicial restraint and maintain the existing status quo. With that said, however, Roberts has used a gradual rollback strategy in other contested areas of law, and many Republican-led states are putting smaller, more specific restrictions on abortion access in order to get the court's input. Roberts might let Roe v. Wade bleed out, slowly but surely changing pieces of it until no woman has any meaningful right to have one. UGH.