The chief justice takes a soft left turn
Those watching the pattern of decisions by the Supreme Court are having déjà vu. As new constitutionally minded justices are added another once seen as slightly to the right of the current liberal "norm" has moved left to fill the "liberal" gap.
This has happened again and again. Justices Kennedy and Souter come to mind. And now it is Chief Justice Roberts.
The reasons for this are, I think, severalfold.
One is that it takes enormous courage and conviction to stand up and try to reverse a social trend. It is much easier to think as others do. That is human nature. And under their imperial robes human is what a justice, chief or otherwise, remains.
Too, the courts are in a real sense the children of the law schools, and those schools are part of what some have called the "coastal command centers." I.e., they reflect not the general consensus of thoughtful Americans across the land, but the more narrow consensus of those living and working in the nation's coastal areas. Those in most every way more closely allied with the world economic and political movements than such that are distinctly American.
The extraordinary pressures that the left will bring to prevent true "conservatives" — and by this, I am referring to following long held distinctly American POVs more than their having a connection with a political movement — from being seated (just think the Thomas hearings or the political circus that was the more recent Kavanaugh hearings) make it less likely for a Republican president to nominate someone who will bring about such tantrums on the left. Instead, he will nominate someone just to the right of the liberal norm, not a person of deep and thoughtful conviction.
Once appointed, that person — now a justice for life — is faced with years and years of swimming against a strong current, or, perhaps, easing his way just a bit. "Going along to get along," as it were. Rare is the man willing or able to do the former.
In the case of Chief Justice Roberts, we have a transparent example of the latter, and that from early on after he took "holy orders." For soon after his appointment, the question arose of the constitutionality of the Obamacare-instituted penalties placed upon citizens who did not choose to purchase an approved health insurance plan, and according to almost every report, Chief Justice Roberts thought such a penalty counter to constitutional requirements. But when Justice Kennedy agreed with that constitutionally correct position, and it would have fallen upon the newly appointed chief justice to go against the political expedient, and cast the deciding vote, he changed his position. Ever since that time, "go along to get along" seems to be his mantra.
Yes, strength of conviction is a rare thing.
Liberals can easily fake it, and they constantly do. This is because their stands are generally approved by the people who surround them and thus matter to them. The "home country" is easily forgotten. They have a new home — and it is theirs for life.
The above is why so many people so loudly support and applaud President Trump. He is over and over again willing to swim against the tide, and thus to nominate and appoint people who will predictably lead to one of those left-wing tantrums. "Unpleasantness be damned."
We will need several more Trump appointments to allow the Supreme Court to move back to its constitutional role. Those appointed by establishment Republicans such as the Bushes were appointed in part because they were easy to get through the left's defensive field. Those President Trump puts forth need have no such softness in their attachment to constitutionality.