The Nina Totenberg story Mr. Torvik linked to had an interesting point about conservative criticism of Chief Justice Roberts. Judge Posner thinks that the Chief Justice's critics are making a "serious mistake."
Because if you put [yourself] in his position ... what's he supposed to think? That he finds his allies to be a bunch of crackpots? Does that help the conservative movement? I mean, what would you do if you were Roberts? All the sudden you find out that the people you thought were your friends have turned against you, they despise you, they mistreat you, they leak to the press. What do you do? Do you become more conservative? Or do you say, 'What am I doing with this crowd of lunatics?' Right? Maybe you have to re-examine your position.I have certainly had the experience of looking around a room and wondering how I ended up hanging out with these lunatics. Although, for me this usually happened at an after bar party not at the United States Supreme Court.
I am sure that progressives and/or liberals get excited contemplating a move to the center or left by Chief Justice Roberts. But, I wonder how much a dissent and a leak will cause the Chief Justice to stop dancing with those that brung him. After all, he got a long way by being a conservative legal thinker (although, so did Judge Posner). Moreover, as Reuters notes, the upcoming term features Fisher v. Texas an affirmative action case and a series of cases under the Voting Rights Act. These are two areas in which the Chief Justice is very Conservative. I suspect that when the dust settles on these cases, people will stop talking about the Chief Justice not being "truly a conservative" anymore.