John G. Roberts Jr.

John G. Roberts Jr.4 posts
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13 Feb, 2016

Antonin Scalia dead at 79


Scalia dies in his sleep while on a hunting trip in West Texas, according to a statement by Chief Justice Roberts:

He was an extraordinary individual and jurist, admired and treasured by his colleagues. His passing is a great loss to the Court and the country he so loyally served.

26 Jun, 2015

Guarantees right to same-sex marriage


The Court rules in a 5-4 decision that the Constitution guarantees a right to same-sex marriage. The plaintiffs, gay and lesbian couples from four states, said they had a fundamental right to marry and to equal protection, adding that the bans they challenged demeaned their dignity, imposed countless practical difficulties and inflicted particular harm on their children, while Lawyers for the four states said their bans were justified by tradition and the distinctive characteristics of opposite-sex unions. They said the question should be resolved democratically, at the polls and in state legislatures, rather than by judges. Justice Kennedy writes for the majority, which includes Sotomayer, Ginsburg, Breyer and Kagan:

No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage…Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.

In the dissent, Roberts, joined by Scalia and Thomas, says the Constitution has nothing to say on the subject:

If you are among the many Americans — of whatever sexual orientation — who favor expanding same-sex marriage, by all means celebrate today’s decision. Celebrate the achievement of a desired goal. Celebrate the opportunity for a new expression of commitment to a partner. Celebrate the availability of new benefits. But do not celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it.

Scalia also added:

The opinion is couched in a style that is as pretentious as its content is egotistic. Of course the opinion’s showy profundities are often profoundly incoherent.

Jun 2015

Upholds health care subsidies


In a 6-3 ruling, justices uphold health care subsidies, based on their finding that critics’ reading of Obamacare might make sense in isolation, but not when viewed in a larger context and in light of the intention of the law. Americans who currently receive subsidies under the Affordable Care Act will continue to do so.  Chief Justice Roberts writes for the majority:

Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them. If at all possible, we must interpret the Act in a way that is consistent with the former, and avoids the latter.

He is joined by Justices Breyer, Ginsburg, Kagan, Kennedy and Sotomayor. Justice Scalia presents the dissent, and is joined by Justices Alito and Thomas. Scalia calls the decision “wonderfully convenient,” complains about “interpretative jiggery-pokery” and argues it was not the Court’s job to make up for the sloppy drafting of the law by Congress, branding the law as “SCOTUScare”.


Sides with raisin farmers


In an 8-1 decision, the justices rule that a government program meant to increase raisin prices by keeping some of them off the market amounts to an unconstitutional taking of private property by the government. Chief Justice Roberts writes for the majority:

The fact that the growers retain a contingent interest of indeterminate value does not mean there has been no physical taking, particularly since the value of the interest depends on the discretion of the taker, and may be worthless, as it was for one of the two years at issue here.

Justice Sotomayor is the sole dissenting voter. She states that the majority had damaged settled legal principles…

… in a manner that is as unwarranted as it is vague. What makes the court’s twisting of the doctrine even more baffling is that it ultimately instructs the government that it can permissibly achieve its market control goals by imposing a quota without offering raisin producers a way of reaping any return whatsoever on the raisins they cannot sell. I have trouble understanding why anyone would prefer that.

The justices are, however, divided 5-4 on the issue of compensation for the plaintiffs, with Justices Breyer, Kagan and Ginsburg joining in the dissent.

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