Did John Roberts Really Lobby Brett Kavanaugh to ‘Save’ Roe Before the Opinion Leaked?

It's possible that Chief Justice Roberts tried to maneuver behind the scenes to save abortion rights, but it certainly isn't likely, considering his final vote.

Did John Roberts Really Lobby Brett Kavanaugh to ‘Save’ Roe Before the Opinion Leaked?
Photo:Patrick Semansky (L), Andrew Harnik (R) (AP)

New reporting from CNN claims that Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts clung to his belief, until the very end, that he could moderate the conservative wing on abortion and potentially convince Justice Brett Kavanaugh to change his vote.

Roberts reportedly made multiple “overtures” to Kavanaugh in the Spring, despite Kavanaugh’s overt antipathy toward abortion rights, to save Roe v. Wade before the decision leaked. Roberts also “directed” his “efforts” to Justice Amy Coney Barrett “to a lesser extent,” multiple anonymous sources told CNN. Barrett, notoriously, replaced the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whose death during the Trump administration was one of many in a long line of dominoes that led us to the current situation.

As CNN describes it, the leaked draft of the opinion in May became the final nail in the coffin for Roe:

Roberts’ persuasive efforts, difficult even from the start, were thwarted by the sudden public nature of the state of play. He can usually work in private, seeking and offering concessions, without anyone beyond the court knowing how he or other individual justices have voted or what they may be writing.

The leak, which conservatives insist came from a liberal but definitely came from a conservative, reportedly cemented the conservative wing’s position of upending 49 years of precedent just to take away the right to bodily autonomy. Kavanaugh certainly didn’t want appear to be changing his vote in favor of abortion rights under pressure from the liberals protesting on his lawn.

I do not dispute that sources told CNN this is how it all went down—but it also seems very likely that the network’s “sources” on this story were directed by Roberts to spin it this way, so that he emerges looking like the moderate hero who tried his very best to give Americans a different outcome.

Even accepting the premise that Roberts did try to sway Barrett and Kavanaugh before the leak, the man ultimately wrote a concurring opinion with the conservatives and became one of the six out of nine who voted to overturn abortion rights. I award him no points and may god have mercy on his soul.

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