'Gorsuch wants to do horrible things': Right-wing justices battle for control of Supreme Court

'Gorsuch wants to do horrible things': Right-wing justices battle for control of Supreme Court
Neil Gorsuch, Wikipedia

The U.S. Supreme Court's newly tilted right-wing majority will have a chance to leave its stamp on cases involving abortion, gun rights and torture, and the rulings will reveal who controls the court after Donald Trump jammed through three hardline conservatives.

The confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to replace the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg takes away Chief Justice John Roberts' power to cast the deciding vote on any ruling, but legal experts disagree who will drive the majority's opinions in the session that starts this week, reported The Guardian.

"Roberts's ambition is to keep the law as narrow as possible and keep as much of the court's legitimacy as possible while twirling ever toward the Republicans' agenda," said Elie Mystal, a justice correspondent for The Nation. "[Brett] Kavanaugh likes beer. Amy Coney Barrett likes Jesus. These are fundamentally narrow positions. Gorsuch wants to fundamentally change the law and reframe the way we think about the law. [Neil] Gorsuch wants to do horrible things, but ambitious things. He's got the intellectual tools to accomplish it."

Another court watcher thinks Justice Clarence Thomas will emerge as the most powerful member of the court.

"Roberts is only marginally in charge to the extent that he can bring Kavanaugh or Barrett with him," said Josh Blackman, of the South Texas College of Law Houston. "I think we are living in Justice Thomas's world. He is always thinking ahead several steps and has built an army of supporters."

Barrett and Justice Samuel Alito recently made unusually defensive remarks about the court's legitimacy after Mitch McConnell used his power as Senate majority leader to engineer a 6-3 conservative majority, which then allowed Texas to outlaw most abortions through its controversial "shadow docket" process.

"I think the thing to watch is whether Roberts can pick off one of the members of the [conservative] super majority to have the result come out differently than the hard right would want," said Garrett Epps, a professor at the University of Baltimore School of Law. "I think it may not be his court, but his role is by far the most interesting of any of the justices because he is – and he alone – an institutionalist, in the sense that he really cares about the Supreme Court and his place in history, more than he really cares about his own policy goals."

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