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VP Pence Calls Out Chief Justice Roberts as ‘Disappointment’; Says Louisiana Anti-Abortion Law Was ‘Modest’

In an interview to air in full on Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence assailed U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, saying he’s been a “disappointment to conservatives” for voting with the court’s liberal bloc in several high-profile 5-4 cases. The vice president’s rare rebuke of Roberts signals that the nation’s high court is a 2020 election campaign issue for the White House.

“We have great respect for the institution of the Supreme Court of the United States, but Chief Justice John Roberts has been a disappointment to conservatives whether it be the Obamacare decision or whether it be a spate of recent decisions all the way through Calvary Chapel,” Pence told Christian Broadcasting Network’s (CBN) David Brody.

Further politicizing the court, Pence reiterated how important the election of Donald Trump was in creating the steadfast conservative majority currently on the bench.

“It’s a reminder – I think several cases are a reminder – of just how important this election is for the future of the Supreme Court. We remember the issue back in 2016, which I believe loomed large in voters’ decisions between Hillary Clinton and the man who would become president of the United States,” Pence said, before targeting the court’s decision to reject a Louisiana anti-abortion law.

In that case, the court ruled that a law requiring abortion clinic doctors to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital was unconstitutional, as it placed an undue burden on women’s access to the procedure. The Louisiana law was nearly identical to a Texas law struck down by the court in 2016.

“That’s a very modest restriction on abortion providers, but a narrow majority in the Supreme Court still said it was unacceptable,” Pence said. “And I think it’s been, I think it’s been a wakeup call for pro-life voters around the country who understand, in a very real sense, the destiny of the Supreme Court is on the ballot in 2020.”

Pence did not address, however, that under Roberts the court has consistently embraced a very broad view of religious liberties. In the most recent term, the court granted employers wide latitude to be exempt from the federal health insurance mandate requiring they provides female employees with birth control, shielded religious schools from discrimination litigation, and paved the way for public funds to flow into religious institutions.

[image via CBN screengrab]

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.