The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday will hear two separate challenges to Texas' incredibly-restrictive, much-criticized abortion law, which went into effect after the court denied two months ago to block it. For the challengers — the Biden administration and Texas abortion providers — to be successful, they'll need at least one conservative justice from September's 5-4 vote to reverse course, writes The Washington Post.
And who might join the court's three liberal justices, as well as Chief Justice John Roberts, in a newfound dissent? The "most likely candidate" is Justice Brett Kavanaugh, writes The New York Times, considering he's found himself "at the court's ideological center, shares some of the chief justice's concerns for protecting the institutional authority of the court, and is sensitive to public opinion."
So far in his brief Supreme Court career, Kavanaugh has "been in the majority 87 percent of the time in divided decisions in argued cases," which suggests his vote will likely be "the crucial one" in both challenges heard by the court, per the Times.
Kavanaugh also often moves with and respects Chief Justice Roberts, who dissented back in September. "Kavanaugh is probably the most susceptible to changing positions, mostly because I see him as most closely aligned with the chief's institutional-protection instincts," Michael C. Dorf, a law professor at Cornell, told the Times. "But I don't think he's very susceptible."
That the justices also so quickly agreed to hear the appeals may be another sign that "someone who was not on the fence is probably back on the fence," added Mary Ziegler, a law professor. Kavanaugh, who is sensitive to "how he's perceived" is probably that candidate. Said Ziegler: "There's an effort to distance himself from the politics of the ruling and to show that he is a sympathetic person and a good man."