A few days ago, I wrote on the 5-4 decision by the Supreme Court to strike down Andrew Cuomo’s clearly unconstitutional COVID regulations. They were clearly unconstitutional because they specifically and unfairly targeted religious institutions. Cuomo didn’t even really attempt to make a salient case, as one simply doesn’t exist. His rules have been arbitrary and discriminatory, worrying more about Jewish kids going to school than mass protests in the street.
Of course, this shouldn’t have been a 5-4 decision. A ruling so fundamental to individual rights should have been 9-0, but the liberal justices are going to do what they do. Yet, it was Chief Justice John Roberts, a Bush appointee, who truly showed his colors. Listen to his reasoning and try to come away with any other impression than he’s just a political coward.
Roberts essentially admits that what Cuomo is doing is unconstitutional. Instead of simply ruling that given that was the question at hand in the case, he decides it’s best to vote in favor of Cuomo. Does that make sense to anyone? His excuse is that Cuomo was no longer enforcing the guidelines, yet as Gorsuch explains, without striking them down, they could be reinstated at any time. Roberts knows this, but he’s such a coward that he can’t even be on record supporting the most basic of individual rights, i.e. the First Amendment.
None of this is surprising though. There’s a reason the Supreme Court has thus far refused to hear any difficult Second Amendment cases. Roberts does not want to have to make a tough decision. That’s why he rewrote Obamacare instead of rightly ruling it unconstitutional. It’s why he ruled for COVID restrictions back in January that were targeting churches while allowing other forms of gatherings to go on. Roberts is not a protector of the law. He’s a political actor trying to keep the back-slaps flowing on the D.C. cocktail circuit.
George W. Bush made a lot of mistakes. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, to the extent they were justified, were ultimately waged inefficiently and without the will to win. Bush delivered essentially nothing for conservatism, instead embracing a Medicare expansion and the further federalizing of education. Yet, John Roberts may be his worst, most inexcusable fumble. He had a chance to place someone as Chief Justice who could be a conservative bulwark against tyranny for generations. Instead, he put Roberts in that position and the country has been paying the price ever since.