Roberts and Kennedy on the Court


Amidst the fear and loathing on the left that John Roberts will be quickly confirmed, and move the Court to the right, Britisher Quentin  Langley posits a more sober and thoughtful perspective.

If the existing Court with O'Conner consised of four liberals , three conservatives and two moderates, then Roberts replacing O'Conner shifts the Court to four and four with Kennedy as the lone moderate.

But Langley argues that  O'Conner often led Kennedy on the Court, which is why when the two were together, the right usually won 5 to 4 on controversial issues. When the two split, the left won 5 to 4. Unanchored by O'Conner, Langley believes Kennedy will  continue to drift left, solidifying a 5 to 4 liberal hold on the Court.

This is where Judge Roberts's genial Midwestern personality skills become paramount. He is widely acknwledged to be both brilliant and amiable. Will he be able to mold a conservative majority that attracts Kennedy by friendly persuasion, softening for Kennedy, the harder Scalia line that is increasingly a minorty perspective on the Court?

Langley argues that a liberal retirement is the GOP's only hope for creating a conservative majority, maybe Stevens at age 85, or Ginsberg at 72, with some health issues.

While this may be true, assuming Roberts is approved, the two youngest Justices on the Court will be Roberts at 50,  and Thomas at 56.  At some point everybody retires from the Court or dies while serving. The conservatives have a longevity base with Roberts and Thomas.

Richard Baehr   7 24 05