During his confirmation hearings in 2005, many voiced concerns that then-Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts had consistently opposed attempts to strengthen women’s rights while he was a legal adviser in the Reagan White House. Roberts responded to those concerns by generally reassuring the Senate Judiciary Committee that he supported equal rights for women, including in the workplace. When asked about his position on abortion, Roberts responded that he would respect precedent, referencing the stare decisis principles articulated in Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
Now that the Roberts Court has entered its tenth year, the Constitutional Accountability Center has released Roberts at 10: Roberts’s Quiet, But Critical, Votes to Limit Women’s Rights. The newest installment in CAC’s Roberts at 10 series investigates how Roberts has approached women’s issues during his tenure as Chief Justice. CAC points out that while there has been some progress on women’s issues in the past ten years, those victories have largely been in cases where there was little or no disagreement on the Court. In cases that resulted in limiting workplace equality and reproductive freedom, however, the Court has typically been split 5-4 with Roberts joining the Court’s majority.
The piece is best read in conjunction with previous installments, especially Roberts at 10: A Look at the First Decade of John Roberts’s Tenure as Chief Justice, which explains how Roberts’s position as Chief Justice allows him to influence the scope of Court decisions and the willingness of other justices to join the majority instead of write concurring opinions.