Check out this Linda Greenhouse piece in the NY Times:
Anyone who still needs proof of how the Supreme Court is changing need look no further than the single decision the justices handed down this week. The court held that a dispute that had become moot in the usual sense of that word — the problem was resolved before the case even went to trial — could be litigated nonetheless, because there was still something at stake: the one dollar the plaintiffs were seeking as damages for an asserted violation of their First Amendment right to free speech.
The holding was surprising in its generosity to the plaintiffs, as was the 8-to-1 vote, but that’s not what made Uzuegbunam v. Preczewski remarkable. Rather, it was the identity of the lone dissenter: Chief Justice John Roberts.
In more than 15 years on the court, the chief justice had never before filed a solitary dissenting opinion. In fact, he has rarely voted in dissent at all, and has written dissenting opinions even less frequently. During the term that ended last July, he was in the majority 97 percent of the time. No chief justice since Fred Vinson, during the 1949 term, has displayed that degree of alignment with his court. To the extent that the Roberts court had a center of gravity, Chief Justice Roberts was it.
Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s arrival in late October changed all that, and quickly. A few minutes before midnight on the night before Thanksgiving, the court issued an order suspending the indoor attendance limits that Gov. Andrew Cuomo had placed on religious services in areas of New York with high rates of Covid infection.