One of the defining features of the John Roberts Court is how rarely it’s accused of being tone-deaf. With a handful of exceptions, the conservative majority on the court has chipped, sanded, and whittled away at the law without need of a drop cloth. With a toolbox that includes judicial minimalism and constitutional avoidance, a penchant for overruling old cases without explicitly saying so, and an uncanny sense of just how much activism the public will tolerate, the Roberts Court has done a remarkable job of conforming its behavior to the prevailing public mood, resisting the impulse to go too far.
That second link? Yeah. Rock!
The most interesting thing about this morning’s argument in Abbott v. Abbott is that it breaks down all the normal divisions on the court: left versus right, women versus men, pragmatists, internationalists, textualists, idealists … all of it flies out the big ornamental doors as the court grapples with this new problem of international child abduction at the grittiest, most practical level. It feels nice. Less an ideological smack down than a good, old-fashioned family argument. I wouldn’t get too used to it. But I enjoy it while I can.