I have written that if I could take only one Supreme Court reporter with me to a desert island, it would be Dahlia Lithwick, who year in and year out writes the most penetrating analyses of the top court. This observation from a Slate magazine piece following a draconian Texas abortion law being overturned nails it:
It seems clear the court is experiencing the same searing anxiety the rest of the political system is seeing -- anxiety about race, and sex, and religion, and guns, and immigration, and money, and making America great again -- and the justices are playing out the same big themes we are dealing with in the presidential race, only using their big-kid voices (in the main) and more footnotes.
"The real betrayal of the court's right wing may lie in the mere fact that Justice Kennedy seems to have become more aware that racism is a real thing and that you can't lie about women's health. It doesn't make him liberal. It makes him open. . . . Justice Kennedy doens't seem angry about all of this, by the way. If anything he seems more unruffled now than ever. I find it strangely soothing, amid all the shouting. Maybe the only thing cooler than being the swing justice of a nine-member court is being the swing justice of an eight-member court. It's a nice metaphor for the end of term. Furious dissents from the right, hopeful surges from the left, and Kennedy at the center poker-faced, playing the role of a justice."
I happen to think that the court still has a helluva long way to go before its constitutionally-mandated role is fully restored and the extra-judicial recklessness of the Roberts era is tamped down. But in the meantime, thank you Ms. Lithwick and most especially Justice Kennedy.
CARICATURE BY DONKEYHOTEY