John Roberts’ Field of PlayThe chief justice thinks he's neutral but umpires also make judgment calls. This is part of the "Robert Bork’s Revenge" Dig series.
In his 2005 Senate confirmation hearing, John Roberts famously — and as it turned out, falsely — compared the job he would perform as chief justice to the role of a baseball umpire, declaring: “I will be open to the considered views of my colleagues on the bench, and I will decide every case based on the record, according to the rule of law, without fear or favor, to the best of my ability, and I will remember that it’s my job to call balls and strikes, and not to pitch or bat.”
The Senate voted to confirm Roberts as the 17th chief justice of the Supreme Court on Sept. 29, 2005, by a vote of 78-22.
Far from being a neutral umpire on the bench, however, Roberts has presided over a court that has moved rapidly and decisively to the right. Although he is widely considered the most moderate conservative member on the current court, he has written the majority opinions for some of the panel’s most reactionary rulings. These include Shelby County v. Holder (2013), which gutted the Voting Rights Act, and Rucho v. Common Cause (2019), which held that partisan gerrymandering claims are beyond the reach of federal courts.
You can view the first day of Roberts’ confirmation hearing here or by clicking on the video below. To hear the “balls and strikes” metaphor, fast forward approximately to 3:31.Wait, before you go…
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