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Ramesh Ponnuru

Conservatives Can Be Moderately Pleased With Roberts Court

Alito wanted the court to go further on religious liberty, but a 1990 ruling by Antonin Scalia hemmed it in.

The scales of justice have changed, moderately.

The scales of justice have changed, moderately.

Photographer: Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images

In two major decisions, the Supreme Court expanded protections for religious liberty and narrowed the law of standing so that fewer federal lawsuits can be entertained. Six of the nine justices were appointed by Republican presidents, and a majority of those six agreed with each decision.

Conservative exultation is nonetheless subdued. One of those decisions upheld the Obamacare law. While the case was widely expected to come out this way, it’s not something conservatives who spent more than a decade opposing the law can celebrate. And the religious-liberty decision, conservatives worry, was too narrow. Conservative unease with Chief Justice John Roberts’s court is therefore persisting.