Writing in the American Prospect, Simon Lazarus argues that, despite claims during his confirmation hearings that he would persue a "modest" approach, Chief Justice Roberts has used his time on the bench to push a hard-line conservative agenda--even if it means alienating his colleagues:
The most noteworthy signal from the Seattle and Louisville oral arguments is not the results they appear to portend in the cases themselves. Rather, it is the ease with which the conservative justices, in order to reach a result that fits their political and policy agendas, blew right past every jurisprudential credo to which they and their comrades in arms have long asserted fidelity. If they will do it in this case, they can—and likely will—do it in any socially or politically important case.
Were Chief Justice Roberts to avoid such adventurism and take seriously his protestations of judicial modesty, he could readily pick off some or all of the liberal justices to build majorities— and a predictable approach to deciding—emphasizing constitutional text, history, precedent, and deference to democratic decision makers. Clinton appointees Ginsburg and Breyer, in particular, consistently emphasize deference to democratic institutions (Ginsburg once famously criticized Roe v. Wade for preempting public debate on abortion policy). Roberts may choose this path. He has yet to write a major opinion of his own. But to date, he seems to be gauging whether deft public relations can provide a cover of moderation, while a bloc of four ideological conservatives undermine decades of liberal legislation and case law—and perhaps wait to see if Bush or a Republican successor gets a chance to add a decisive fifth vote to their ranks.