Is John Roberts the next Anthony Kennedy?

Who will be the Supreme Court's new swing vote?

John Roberts and Anthony Kennedy.
(Image credit: Illustrated | Wikimedia Commons)

There's a game the most cynical social conservatives suspect Republicans play: Keep the Supreme Court within one vote of overturning Roe v. Wade but never truly put the landmark abortion decision at risk. That way, come election time, Republicans can whip up enthusiasm among anti-abortion voters without ever losing the issue as a motivating factor or facing the political consequences of being able to more meaningfully regulate the procedure.

Such thinking returns with the upcoming retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy, announced this week. With Kennedy gone, President Trump has an opportunity to replace the Supreme Court's swing vote with a reliable conservative, perhaps even imperiling Roe. But even if Trump chooses such a conservative and gets his nominee through a closely divided Senate, that nominee could surprise everyone with the occasional liberal lean. All eyes would then shift to Chief Justice John Roberts, the jurist most likely to take over Kennedy's role as "the decider" on the court.

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