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Roberts Facing Dilemma With Gridlocked Supreme Court

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By    |   Saturday, 26 Mar 2016 02:23 PM

Legal experts don't expect Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts to make any overtly political moves aimed at solving the court's gridlock following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia and the resulting battle between President Barack Obama and Senate Republicans.

"I'm sure he does not welcome another appointment by President [Barack] Obama," Jeff Shesol, the author of "Supreme Power: Franklin Roosevelt vs. The Supreme Court,"  told The Huffington Post. "Whether Roberts is therefore willing to look the other way is an interesting question."

Shesol's book tells how Roosevelt, faced with a conservative Supreme Court that was resisting his New Deal agenda, sought to increase the size of the court so he could add more liberal-leaning judges. The Chief Justice at the time, Charles Evans Hughes, fought against the idea, sending a letter to the Senate urging them to reject the idea, and blocked Roosevelt.

But Jeffrey Rosen, president of the National Constitution Center, said that he can't imagine Roberts following suit, even though he is a "fierce defender of the court and its institutional legitimacy."

Already this past week, the court handed down its first split 4-4 ruling since Scalia's death in a ruling involving a minor banking case concerning spouses who are guarantors on each other's debts.

Larger cases are looming, though, and the court appears to be headed to another split decision on a major case involving a legal challenge launched by Christian groups demanding full exemption on religious grounds from a requirement under Obamacare to provide health insurance that covers contraceptives.

The bitter fight over the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland could also reflect badly on the court, which strives to remain apolitical.

Last month, just before Scalia died, Roberts himself discussed the dangers of a political court.

"When you have a sharply political, divisive hearing process, it increases the danger that whoever comes out of it will be viewed in those terms," Roberts said in a Boston speech. "We don't work as Democrats or Republicans, and I think it's a very unfortunate perception that the public might get from the confirmation process."

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Legal experts don't expect Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts to make any overtly political moves aimed at solving the court's gridlock following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia and the resulting battle between President Barack Obama and Senate Republicans.
roberts, dilemma, gridlock, supreme, court
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2016-23-26
Saturday, 26 Mar 2016 02:23 PM
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