Roberts and Roe

Jeffrey Rosen has an excellent interview with Chief Justice Roberts in the current issue of the Atlantic. The article describes Roberts’ efforts to build consensus on the Supreme Court and have less closely split 5-4 decisions, so that its judgements will have more clarity and force.

There was one passage that I found particularly illuminating:

Chief justices, Roberts acknowledged, are more likely to sublimate their personal views for the good of the Court than associate justices are; he cited the example of his former boss, William Rehnquist, for whom he clerked. “I think there’s no doubt that he changed, as associate justice and chief; he became naturally more concerned about the function of the institution,” Roberts said, pointing out that though Rehnquist had previously opposed the Miranda v. Arizona decision of 1966, which required the police to read suspects their rights, he wrote the opinion upholding Miranda in 2000. “He appreciated that it had become part of the law-that it would do more harm to uproot it-and he wrote that opinion as chief for the good of the institution.”

Of course, when I read that, it immediately made me think of Roe v. Wade, and I found myself wondering whether Roberts would ultimately vote to overturn it given what a closely divided decision on abortion would do to the Court and to the nation.Would he make a decision purely on the basis of his view of the constitution, or would he vote to uphold it “for the good of the institution”?