Suffice it to say when Mitt Romney next talks about U.S. Supreme Court nominations he intends to make as president, he’ll point to Antonin Scalia, or Samuel Alito, or Clarence Thomas.
John Roberts, the surprise swing vote in the court’s 5-4 decision to uphold President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, has suddenly become persona non grata in certain Republican circles – although friends of the chief justice are putting up a healthy defense. Here’s a quick afternoon breakdown:
From Rush Limbaugh:
”The chief justice was hell-bent to find a way to make this law applicable, so he just decided, you know what, as a tax increase, it works, because there’s no limit on the federal government’s ability to tax….Even when they don’t ask for it, the Supreme Court is gonna find a way to make what they want to do legal because John Roberts said it’s not our job here to forbid this. It’s not our job to protect people from outcomes.”
From Joel B. Pollak at Breitbart.com:
“[It] would appear that the Chief Justice may have succumbed to the bullying meted out by President Barack Obama, who attacked the Court in the aftermath of oral arguments in March, when Obamacare seemed headed for certain defeat.”
Charles Krauthammer at the Washington Post offers a nuanced defense:
“Whatever one thinks of the substance of Bush v. Gore, it did affect the reputation of the court. Roberts seems determined that there be no recurrence with Obamacare. Hence his straining in his Obamacare ruling to avoid a similar result — a 5 to 4 decision split along ideological lines that might be perceived as partisan and political.
“National health care has been a liberal dream for a hundred years. It is clearly the most significant piece of social legislation in decades. Roberts’s concern was that the court do everything it could to avoid being seen, rightly or wrongly, as high-handedly overturning sweeping legislation passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the president.”
From Ezra Klein, also at the Washington Post, though on the other side of the aisle:
“The 5-4 language suggests that Roberts agreed with the liberals. But for the most part, he didn’t. If you read the opinions, he sided with the conservative bloc on every major legal question before the court. He voted with the conservatives to say the Commerce Clause did not justify the individual mandate. He voted with the conservatives to say the Necessary and Proper Clause did not justify the mandate. He voted with the conservatives to limit the federal government’s power to force states to carry out the planned expansion of Medicaid.”
Even the liberal folks at Talking Points Memo are wondering if they’ve been played:
“All five conservative justices, including Chief Justice John Roberts, agreed that the individual mandate exceeded Congress’ power under the Commerce Clause. So all those who thought this case might be the first major retrenchment of Commerce Clause law since the New Deal might still be right.“
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider