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On Thanksgiving 2020, the New Roberts Court has Arrived

On May 29, 2020, Chief Justice Roberts wrote a brief concurring opinion in South Bay United Pentecostal Church v. Newsom. This thinly-reasoned statement soon became a super precedent. At this point, the Chief was at the apogee of his power. What a difference five months makes. Moments ago, the Supreme Court decided Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn v. Cuomo. By a 5-4 vote, the Court issued an injunction against New York’s restrictions on houses of worship. Chief Justice Roberts wrote a solo dissent. He seemed to agree that the Petitioners would prevail on the merits, but would not have granted the injunction for other reasons.

For the past week, I wondered whether Roberts would pivot to the right to control the majority, or stick to his guns in dissent. Here, he did not flinch. I think this voting pattern will become far more pronounced over this term, and in future terms. Mark your calendars. On Thanksgiving, 2020, the New Roberts Court has arrived.

I will have much more to say about the merits of the decision in subsequent blog posts.

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About The Author

Josh Blackman

Founded in 1968, Reason is the magazine of free minds and free markets. We produce hard-hitting independent journalism on civil liberties, politics, technology, culture, policy, and commerce. Reason exists outside of the left/right echo chamber. Our goal is to deliver fresh, unbiased information and insights to our readers, viewers, and listeners every day. Visit

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