Arthur Hellman Comments on Chief Justice John Roberts' Drive to Preserve Supreme Court's Legitimacy

The death of Antonin Scalia has brought criticisms as to who will be able to successfully appoint the next justice: Obama, or the next president? The situation puts Chief Justice John Roberts in a tough situation, because he has not spoken about the tactics of the Senate Republicans, and probably will not. Pitt Law Professor Arthur Hellman was requested to comment and said, "In his heart of hearts, he probably has views on these things. It would be very hard not to. He really is very concerned about preserving the court's legitimacy and its stature as an institution."

If Obama's nomination is appointed to the Supreme Court, this would mean a Democratic majority, which is not necessarily in Roberts' favor as he is conservative. However, not appointing a justice would mean two more terms with only 8 justices, putting the court's legitimacy at risk. There has been speculation that in one of the Obamacare votes, Roberts changed his vote due to concerns about the court's reputation. When asked about this, Hellman states that "the very fact that people have speculated along those lines tells us something about the perception that had been generated by his own statements over the decade he has been chief justice."

Read more in the Talking Points Memo article, "What Does John Roberts Think of the Battle Over Scalia's Successor?"

Referred Person: