John Roberts Feels the Pressure to Step Down from Supreme Court…Will He?

Rob Crandall /

We’ve already seen Justice Stephen Breyer step down from the Supreme Court. Although he wanted to keep it hush, news of the retirement plans was spilled from the liberals before he could make a formal announcement. It meant that the liberals could finally get a judge of their own choosing into SCOTUS.

Breyer was a liberal nominee at the time. He was appointed by Bill Clinton. Many believe that Breyer has leaned to the left for most of his rulings. Therefore, anyone that the Biden administration wanted to name wouldn’t be a big deal.

Only, Biden has decided that the person will be Black and female. Forget about qualifications – he wants to make sure that the person fits the desired gender and race.

John Roberts, another justice within the Supreme Court, was appointed by George W. Bush. At the age of 67, he’s still one of the younger members of SCOTUS.

Roberts has announced that he’s considering stepping down, too, but it’s more to prove a point than anything else. The liberals are thrilled about the possibility – and since the announcement, he’s receiving a significant amount of pressure to follow through.

If Roberts were to step down at the same time as Breyer, it would mean that Biden gets two nominations. And if he makes them soon enough, both nominees could be confirmed before the 2022 midterms.

There’s just one problem. Replacing a liberal justice with a liberal nominee is no problem. John Roberts, however, was considered one of the more conservative justices. If he is replaced by Biden, it will be with someone who is considerably more progressive – and this could have a negative impact on conservative cases that need to go through the Supreme Court.

Roberts isn’t concerned, though.

During his own confirmation hearing back in 2005, he said, “Judges are like umpires. Umpires don’t make the rules, they apply them…they make sure everybody plays by the rules, but it is a limited role. Nobody ever went to a ball game to see the umpire.”

Essentially, he’s saying that anyone who is named to the Supreme Court has to apply the rules – and the rules don’t change. Therefore, anyone that Biden or any other president were to nominate would be capable of playing umpire.

Amy Coney Barrett has made similar comments about how the members of SCOTUS have to remain bipartisan.

It’s why there have been various rulings where justices appointed by liberal presidents have voted more conservatively and where justices appointed by conservative presidents have voted more liberally. They are simply translating the law in the way that they see fit and applying it to the case in front of them.

The pressure from Roberts is on. Many on the left are saying that the best way for him to prove his point is to join Breyer in announcing his retirement. By doing so, he would certainly be able to accomplish what he wants – reviving the faith that the Court is legitimate – and that rulings focus on the law rather than on personal agenda.

As a columnist in Politico wrote, there are a few reasons why Roberts could consider hanging up his robe this year. First, it would create an “eloquent statement” on institutional governance. Second, he could trust Biden to choose a legitimate candidate. And finally, he proves that he and any other justice is an “apolitical defender of the law.”

Is John Roberts actually going anywhere? Probably not. But if he gets enough pressure to put his robe where his mouth is, we might actually see him retire.