Since his first job as a young lawyer in Washington, John Roberts‘ work has been entangled with Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that gave women a right to end a pregnancy.

He helped hoist the banner against Roe in the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations. But years later, during 2005 Senate hearings for the chief justice post he now holds, Roberts testified that Roe should be respected as precedent, particularly after being affirmed in 1992. And he has largely held to that.
Now, Roberts, the Supreme Court and the country face a pivotal moment for abortion rights. And Roberts’ action in a dispute the court will take up this week, over Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban, could be his most consequential. He leads a conservative bench that, since last year’s succession of Amy Coney Barrett for Ruth Bader Ginsburg, has appeared on the precipice of reversing Roe v. Wade.