It's fitting in a sense, that's the image that we have of O'Connor over the last 24 years. She's leaving the bench, right down to the last minute playing the role that she has become known for playing — being the middle of the court.
That is Ronald Reagan's hand on the Supreme Court every day.
Roberts doesn't become leader of the court just by becoming chief justice. The dynamic is not written into any kind of procedure. It's got to take its own shape.
It's quite likely that as of this moment the court could be facing a 5-4 decision against the Americans with Disabilities Act, with O'Connor casting the all important fifth vote.
I imagine Roberts would like to be a consensus builder.
I think there were people in the White House who hoped the Democrats would all vote for him and show that Roberts was a high-quality nominee. There were other people in the White House who hoped the Democrats would all vote against him, thinking that would help the president feel liberated to do whatever he wanted to do next.
The goal was to transform the court, to tip the balance back to the states and to make the court system more responsive to victims of crimes and less focused on defendants. I think he succeeded, not to a total degree, but some degree.