POLITICS

Mike Pence: Supreme Court Chief John Roberts Is A 'Disappointment To Conservatives'

The vice president didn't mince words on the chief justice, who cast deciding votes in White House defeats on immigration, LGBTQ rights and abortion.

Vice President Mike Pence offered a withering take on Chief Justice John Roberts this week, urging conservative Americans to consider the “destiny” of the Supreme Court as they cast their votes this November. 

Speaking to the Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody in an interview that aired Thursday, Pence took Roberts to task over the fact that the chief justice sided with the high court’s liberal members several times in recent months. 

“Look, we have great respect for the institution of the Supreme Court of the United States,” the vice president said. “But Chief Justice John Roberts has been a disappointment to conservatives — whether it be the Obamacare decision or whether it be a spate of recent decisions all the way through Calvary Chapel.”

In the Calvary Chapel Dayton Valley decision last month, the Supreme Court rejected a Nevada church’s emergency plea to strike down the state’s temporary 50-person cap on worship services.

Roberts, a nominee of former President George W. Bush, has come to be seen as the Supreme Court’s key swing vote since Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement in 2018. 

This year, he sided with the four liberal justices in extending workplace protections to LGBTQ employees. He also wrote the 5-4 decision that blocked the Trump administration from rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, keeping nearly 650,000 undocumented young people safe from deportation for at least a while longer. 

President Donald Trump, along with multiple Republican lawmakers, has publicly denounced Roberts for his role in those decisions.

In his chat with Brody, Pence pointed specifically to the chief justice being the swing vote in a June ruling that struck down a Louisiana law that could have left the state with only one abortion provider. The law would have mandated that doctors providing abortions obtain admitting privileges at a nearby hospital ― a requirement that the court had rejected four years earlier in a Texas case.

“I think it’s been a wake-up call for pro-life voters around the country who understand, in a very real sense, the destiny of the Supreme Court is on the ballot in 2020,” the vice president said.

Many observers interpreted Pence’s remarks as an effort to refocus voters on the courts. Recent polls indicate widespread disapproval of Trump’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis, but his conservative overhaul of the federal judiciary has been touted by his supporters as an enduring achievement. 

In June, Trump pledged to issue a short list of prospective Supreme Court nominees ahead of the November election. It’s a repeat of a 2016 campaign tactic that helped win over many Republican voters, according to exit polls.

“He kept his word,” Pence said. “He’s going to do that in the fall of 2020, and in the next four years, he’ll keep his word and appoint more principled conservatives to our courts.”