This essay examines the Roberts Court and its relationship to the Obama administration. It begins by analyzing the ways in which the Court has been structured by electoral politics over the past 40 years, arguing that the Court’s more conservative, divided, and polarized decision-making reflects the politics of the post-1968 electoral regime. It concludes by considering the impact of President Obama’s 2012 reelection, contending that there is little indication that Obama aspires to restructure the courts fundamentally or to push major new constitutional initiatives. Although Obama will undoubtedly have an opportunity to fill at least one seat on the Court in the coming years, he is unlikely to alter its ideological balance, leaving Justice Kennedy as the swing justice. Thus, while liberals can expect isolated judicial victories, Obama’s reelection does not portend an imminent shift in Court decision-making. Only time will tell, however, whether it will have longer-term consequences for American constitutional development.
About the authors
Cornell W. Clayton is the Director of the Thomas S. Foley Institute of Public Policy and Public Service and the Claudius O. Johnson Distinguished Professor of Political Science at Washington State University.
Lucas K. McMillan is a Doctoral Student in Political Science at Washington State University.
©2013 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin Boston