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Noah Feldman

Brett Kavanaugh Is About to Get a Lot More Powerful

The confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett recenters the court around him, not Chief Justice Roberts.

Newly influential.

Newly influential.

Photographer: Andrew Harnik/Getty Images

The confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett means that Chief Justice John Roberts is no longer the Supreme Court’s swing voter.

Roberts had a good run in the seat of power, deciding cases on the census citizenship question, the rescission of DACA, and abortion rights. Now, however, he won’t be able to determine a case’s outcome by joining the court’s liberals. With only three liberals left on the court, Roberts would have to convince another conservative to join him to produce a liberal result. The justice who provides that fifth vote becomes the swing voter.