[JURIST] Chief Justice John Roberts [OYEZ profile] wants greater consensus between justices on the US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] and hopes to decide issues on very narrow grounds in order to avoid unnecessary controversy. In a commencement address [recorded video] to Georgetown Law Center graduates on Sunday, Roberts said:
If it is not necessary to decide more to a case, then in my view it is necessary not to decide more to a case. Division should not be artificially suppressed, but the rule of law benefits from a broader agreement. The broader agreement among the justices, the more likely it is a decision on the narrowest possible grounds.
Roberts said that he would like to avoid the 5-4 decisions that often split the court on controversial issues such as presidential wartime powers and political boundaries in Texas, both of which the court will render decisions upon before the current term ends. Roberts also said that members of the Court are obligated to consider the views of others and that it is their responsibility to foster better working relationships between themselves to offer a more unified voice for the Court. More consensus between justices could create more respect for the judiciary, Roberts said.
Members of Congress have criticized the court as overreaching in two key decisions last year, when it struck down the death penalty for juveniles [opinion text; JURIST report] and allowed the local governments to use eminent domain powers [opinion text; JURIST report] to take homes for private economic development in two key decisions last year. The New York Times has more. Georgetown University's Hoya has local coverage.