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How the future of Roe is testing Roberts?s clout on Supreme Court

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John G. Roberts Jr
Samuel A. Alito Jr.
Clarence Thomas
Stephen G. Breyer
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Elena Kagan
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Neil M. Gorsuch
Brett M. Kavanaugh
Amy Coney Barrett
Miguel Estrada
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The New York Times
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Roberts Jr.As the country awaits a final decision, the intense deliberations inside a court closed to the public and shaken by revelations of its private negotiations appears to be not between the court’s right and left, but among the six conservative justices, including Roberts, in the court’s supermajority.The mere existence of the draft indicated that five justices had voted at least tentatively to reject Roberts’s incremental approach to restricting abortion rights. In Alito’s more than 16 years on the Supreme Court, he has supported every government restriction on abortion that has come before him.The Supreme Court’s draft opinion on overturning Roe v. Casey, while severely limiting their protections.In a statement confirming that the draft opinion leaked to Politico was authentic, Roberts stressed two points: “it does not represent a decision by the Court or the final position of any member on the issues in the case.”The coming weeks will tell whether Roberts’s assertions are telling, or mere formalities.Overturning Roe would mark the culmination of decades of work by the conservative legal movement. But his institutional instincts sometimes seem to put him in the position of making choices at odds with his conservative leanings.Besides a historic vote to save the Affordable Care Act, he joined liberals in 2020 to stop the Trump administration from dismantling the Obama-era program to protect undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children, and to strike down a restrictive Louisiana abortion law.Roberts said the Louisiana law, requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, was comparable to a Texas law the court had overturned in 2016 and that the legal principle of “stare decisis” required the court to treat “like cases alike.”Roberts had dissented in the Texas case, but he said precedent took prominence, and the court had not been asked to upend the court’s past decisions protecting abortion rights.But the court’s center of gravity has shifted since then, with Kavanaugh replacing Justice Anthony M. Kennedy — one of Casey’s authors — and Barrett taking the seat of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, probably the court’s most fierce advocate of abortion rights.Roberts’s diminished role was evident earlier this term in another abortion case, when the court voted 5 to 4 that an unusual law from Texas could not be challenged in federal court before it went into effect.Roberts voted with the liberals in September to try to stop the ban, which empowers private individuals to sue anyone who helps a women terminate her pregnancy after the six-week mark.

As said here by Robert Barnes, Carol D. Leonnig, Ann E. Marimow