This thoughtful piece at National Review paints the likely possibility of Chief Justice Roberts becoming the “swing vote” on the Supreme Court. The Chief Justice has shown a decidedly minimalist streak ever since he has been on that court and with Kennedy gone, that could place him in the role of providing a check on his more originalists/textualists minded colleagues.
Sandra Day O’Connor is a recent example of a minimalist justice. Felix Frankfurter was perhaps the classic incarnation of a minimalist.
Minimalists tend to show a greater respect for precedent, as as the title implies, take the minimal approach to resolving cases, with least disruption to the law and deferring in a great degree to the political branches.
The significance of this could become clear very early, when the first abortion cases arrive at the new court. Roberts could put the breaks on any major rollbacks of current judicial protections and any steps taken could be baby steps.
Should be very interesting and we could find out the answer within a single Supreme Court term.