In two cases fraught with political overtones, Chief Justice Roberts Jr.’s opinions in the Trump financial records cases did not achieve unanimity across an ideologically divided bench, but his effort came very close and protected, as he has tried in several cases this term, the appearance of an independent U.S. Supreme Court.

The chief justice’s opinions were, in a sense, classic Roberts opinions, where he rejects extreme positions, applies a middle ground and leaves the door ajar for losing parties to make new arguments. And in doing so, he alone or with other conservative colleagues forms a cross-ideological majority.

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