CNN Cheers John Roberts ‘Choosing Integrity’ On Abortion ‘During an Election Year’

Despite abortion being an issue which continues to divide Americans, CNN Newsroom cheered the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down a Louisiana pro-life law as restoring “integrity” and “stability” in the law and “public’s expectations” on abortion.

During the 10-minute-segment Monday morning, no journalist or analyst presented the opposing opinion. Instead, the panel focused solely on touting Chief Justice John Roberts siding with the liberal justices again as a “huge blow” to both the Trump administration and Christians. 

CNN Justice Correspondent Jessica Schneider began by hailing the court’s close 5-4 decision as “a big win for abortion rights advocates.” She pointed out that Chief Justice Roberts “proved to be the linchpin siding with the liberals yet again” as the third case in the past two weeks where he has sided with the liberal justices on controversial social issues. Schneider rubbed it in the face of evangelicals who supported Trump: 

This is a huge blow to the Trump administration and to the president himself, and it really probably strikes some fear to President Trump’s evangelical base who was counting on the president’s two nominations of Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch to really put this court in the solidly conservative column…

Supreme Court analyst Joan Biskupic also suggested this was Roberts standing up to Trump. She gushed that this decision proved the Chief Justice was choosing “integrity” and taking a “stand” for the public’s expectations “during an election year:”

JOAN BISKUPIC: This was a very important moment for him choosing the integrity of the court over his personal ideology. You know, Jessica made that point, that he’s always voted for abortion regulations, that those kind of instincts go back to the time of the Ronald Reagan administration, but here at this moment with a Trump administration, an election year, it was important for him to say four years ago we struck down identical abortion restrictions and there was no going back. Now I think at a different time and era with him not being the swing vote justice he might not have voted this way, but this is a very big stand he took for some sort of stability in the law, public expectations and the integrity of the court and his personal legacy over his own ideology that has been very conservative, especially on social issues. 

 

Anchor Kate Bolduan was amazed at the “fascinating” choice by Roberts. She asked Biskupic to explain why he sided with the liberals. Biskupic hailed it as Roberts “rising to the occasion,” “with the Trump administration, this election year.”

The panel went on to praise Roberts for showing “a real sign of independence” and reveled in his “really important moment.” Biskupic eagerly noted how Roberts has voted against court precedent on important issues before but now he has drawn a line on abortion, that he will not cross: 

He’s done it plenty of times. No one should be confused about what Chief Justice Roberts does with certain other precedents. He’s voted again rulings from the ’70s and ‘8s and earlier that were very important in this country but what he’s done now is said is that there’s a line that he’s not going to cross, and it’s very important in the constitutionality of a woman’s right to end a pregnancy, and that was a line that he had never crossed before. So you’re right to characterize it as a very big moment.

The media didn’t always feel this way about Roberts. When he was nominated by President George W. Bush, the media fretted he was too conservative and too political. Now that he’s siding with Democrats, the media praises him as an independent who’s restoring “balance” to the court.

You can read the transcript, below:

CNN Newsroom

6/29/20

11:00 AM EST

JESSICA SCHNEIDER: [T]his is a big win for abortion rights advocates, and notably it’s coming at the hands of the Chief Justice in this case who voted with the liberals to block this Louisiana abortion law. This is significant for many reasons, probably the biggest of which being that the Chief Justice before this morning had never voted to strike down an abortion restriction, but in this case he has. The Chief Justice really in a sense saying that his hands were tied here because of a similar case in 2016 involving a similar Texas law that the Supreme Court in that case said was unconstitutional. In that case though it was Anthony Kennedy, the now retired justice who sided with the liberals to strike down that Texas law. The Chief Justice John Roberts that case actually vigorously dissented, but here he said that because of that precedent he had to side with the liberals. He said that the burden on access to abortion was just as severe as the Texas law in 2016 that this court struck down. You know, however, the Chief Justice, he did side with the majority here, but he also wrote a concurring opinion, and in that opinion he really left a little bit of an opening here for other states that might try to pass similar laws. He did say that this Louisiana law was just much too similar to the Texas law, but there is the possibility that other states in different circumstances might come up with a law that is different enough to impose some of these restrictions. This Louisiana law actually had doctors. They had to have admitting privileges to hospital within 30 miles of the abortion clinic where they performed these abortions. Really challengers here said that that would have effectively left only one doctor in the entire state able to perform abortions. It would have effectively shut down two of the three remaining abortion clinics so the Chief Justice here Kate really proving the linchpin for the third time in just two weeks, siding with the liberals yet again. This is a huge blow to the Trump administration and to the president himself, and it really probably strikes some fear to President Trump’s evangelical base who was counting on the president’s two nominations of Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch to really put this court in the solidly conservative column, but now we’re seeing the Chief Justice striking things down the middle, striking a balance here and going with the liberals and in this case striking down this abortion law out of Louisiana. Kate? 

KATE BOLDUAN: Yeah, saying that he saw the law as nearly identical to that Texas law, how the Chief Justice talking about it there. Jessica, thank you. Joining me now right now for more on this is CNN legal analyst Elie Honig and CNN Supreme Court analyst Joan Biskupic. Joan, I’ve got to get your take on this because you wrote the book on John Roberts. Take us in, take us in to the mind here. This majority includes the Chief Justice. He’s the linchpin here. Nominated by George W. Bush. How do you explain how he comes down here?

JOAN BISKUPIC: That’s right. This was a very important moment for him choosing the integrity of the court over his personal ideology. You know, Jessica made that point, that he’s always voted for abortion regulations, that those kind of instincts go back to 

the time of the Ronald Reagan administration, but here at this moment with a Trump administration, an election year, it was important for him to say four years ago we struck down identical abortion restrictions and there was no going back. Now I think at a different time and era with him not being the swing vote justice he might not have voted this way, but this is a very big stand he took for some sort of stability in the law, public expectations and the integrity of the court and his personal legacy over his own ideology that has been very conservative, especially on social issues. 

BOLDUAN: Yeah and Joan that’s why this—the Roberts aspect of this is so fascinating, because if people are sitting here thinking and wondering saying are we looking at a transformation of, an evolution, if you will, of the Chief Justice, do you think that that’s what people are seeing? Is it something else? 

BISKUPIC: I think you see him rising to a particular occasion here. Again, with the Trump administration, this election year, and I think you have to step back and look at the three rules in the past two weeks. The one on undocumented immigrants, that was purely a vote by him by very sloppy administrative law on the part of the Trump administration and before that he was the sixth vote, not the fifth crucial vote in the gay rights ruling, but here he is on a constitutional issue departing from his own personal instincts, so I think what you’ve seen now is not a transformation in his ideology but a bit of a change in his idea of what he represents on this court and frankly represents in this whole country. He is the Chief Justice of the United States, not just the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. I think he’s recognizing the platform that he has at a time when this nation is so polarized. 

BOLDUAN: Fascinating. 

BISKUPIC: It is. 

BOLDUAN: Elie, what’s your reaction to this? 

ELIE HONIG: So Kate, that is a monumental ruling I think on two levels. First of all, the Supreme Court clearly tells states you can not issue extraordinarily restrictive state laws like we saw in Louisiana and a few years ago in Texas. I mean, the practical impact of this Louisiana law is it would have made it all but impossible to get an abortion in Indiana and that’s what the court calls an undue right to have access to abortion. Bigger picture, it shows that the court is going to adhere to follow its own precedent and as Joan was discussing, this is what Chief Justice Roberts used as the basis to join the liberal block here. Chief Justice Roberts hasn’t suddenly become a liberal, but shown some real sign of independence. What he said was we decided this case on an almost identical statute out of Texas in 2016 and have to stick with it and this has very broad implications for the future of “Roe v. Wade.” What will it take for the court to overturn that? I think Chief Justice Roberts is telling us don’t count on me to overturn “Roe v. Wade.” 

BOLDUAN: Joan, you said and Jessica reiterated it earlier, this is the first time he has ever voted against abortion regulations. 

BISKUPIC: That’s right. I think this is really — 

BOLDUAN: No, no, I think this moment with the Chief Justice, I don’t think people should, as you take it kind of in the context of what we’ve seen in the last two week with decisions, I think that this is a really important moment to consider. 

BISKUPIC: I do, too, Kate and it’s exactly for that reason that even though there were other tests of precedent that had come before him, he had set those precedents aside. He’s done it plenty of times. No one should be confused about what Chief Justice Roberts does with certain other precedents. He’s voted again rulings from the ’70s and ‘8s and earlier that were very important in this country but what hes done now is said is that there’s a line that he’s not going to cross, and it’s very important in the constitutionality of a woman’s right to end a pregnancy, and that was a line that he had never crossed before. So you’re right to characterize it as a very big moment. We do not know what will happen going forward, but I think no one should count on Chief Justice John Roberts to either reverse the 1992 Casey landmark or the 1973 “Roe v. Wade” landmark. Now he suggested that he might be open to some restrictions and he wrote in his concurring statement, but I think that states are going to have to be very careful because this is not an invitation. This is definitely not an invitation to return quickly to this Supreme Court. In fact, He would rather probably not have to deal with this issue for years to come, but I think he’s laid down a marker that I think will reverberate for many years. 

BOLDUAN: Yeah real implications here especially about how states should probably be thinking about when they approach these restrictive laws going forward because that viewpoint really changed when Justice Kennedy, when Justice Kennedy stepped down and what that was going to look like going forward and as you said, he laid down a marker today.