Appointments made by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. have been quietly reshaping the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which has a major role in deciding how intrusive the government can be in the name of national security, reports the New York Times. Roberts, more than his predecessors, has chosen judges with conservative and executive branch backgrounds that critics say make the court more likely to defer to government arguments that domestic spying programs are necessary.
Ten of the court's 11 judges — all assigned by Roberts — were appointed to the bench by Republican presidents; six once worked for the federal government. Since the chief justice began making assignments in 2005, 86 percent of his choices have been Republican appointees, and 50 percent have been former executive branch officials. Though the two previous chief justices, Warren E. Burger and William H. Rehnquist, were conservatives, their assignments to the surveillance court were more ideologically diverse, according to a Times analysis.