John Roberts

Did Roberts Gut the Commerce Clause?
June 28, 2012

The right’s legal attack on health care reform failed today. But did the right’s broader assault on federal power succeed? Earlier today, I suggested that it might have. Although Chief Justice John Roberts joined his liberal colleagues in upholding the law, he joined his conservative colleagues in rejecting a key argument on the law’s behalf. In particular, he said that the mandate was not a legitimate way for the government to regulate interstate commerce. The Court has historically interpreted the Commerce Clause very broadly.

The Political Upshot of the Roberts Vote
June 28, 2012

A number of commentators have noted that one upshot of the Supreme Court largely affirming the Affordable Care Act is that it will help shape public opinion on the law, which is still a bit amorphous. I agree, and think the effect could be even larger than they realize. If you look at recent polling, you find that around 35 percent of Americans support the law, around 40 to 45 percent oppose it, and the rest don’t really have an opinion.

Conservatives’ Long March Through the Court Hits a Wall
June 28, 2012

In a stunning decision that will define his legacy as chief justice, John Roberts broke with the Supreme Court’s conservative bloc and provided the fifth vote to uphold the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. While declining to uphold the Act under the Commerce Clause, Roberts argued that the mandate could pass constitutional muster as an exercise of Congress’s power to tax.

Supreme Court Rules, Obamacare Can Go Forward
June 28, 2012

[Updated at 12:34 p.m.] The Supreme Court has ruled. Health care reform lives. The decision was actually three separate rulings, with the justices taking different positions on different parts of the law. But it means that the Affordable Care Act can take effect, unless lawmakers decide to repeal it, as Mitt Romey and congressional Republicans have vowed to do.  If fully implemented, thirty million people who might otherwise be uninsured will get coverage.

What to Expect at 10 a.m.
June 28, 2012

And now we wait. The Supreme Court convenes at 10 a.m. The justices have two other decisions to deliver, so they might not get to the health care case until 10:15 or so. Even then, the ruling and its effects may not be immediately clear. The Court must effectively address four separate questions and the justices may write multiple decisions. The whole world will be logging onto SCOTUSblog, which will have a liveblog to break the news and tonight posted a summary of the questions before the court. Those questions are: 1.

What Thursday’s Verdict Will Settle—and What It Won’t
June 27, 2012

The debate over health care reform’s constitutionality will reach its climax on Thursday morning, when the Supreme Court issues its ruling. But the fight over health care will go on, however the justices rule. It’s a fight that progressives should welcome, but one, I suspect, they won’t win if they keep fighting like they have been. Ever since oral arguments, when the conservative justices expressed extreme skepticism of the government’s position, supporters of the Affordable Care Act (including me) have been bracing themselves for the worst.

Why Monday’s Immigration Decision Should Be a Model For Thursday’s Obamacare Ruling
June 26, 2012

The Supreme Court’s decision to strike down most of Arizona’s immigration law is a cause for celebration—not least because it’s a model of how the Court can make decisions based on judicial philosophy rather than partisanship. The bipartisan majority opinion by Justice Anthony Kennedy, joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and the three liberal justices (Elena Kagan was recused) was modest and nuanced in tone and in substance—and consistent with all of the justices’ previous expressions of willingness to allow federal policies to trump state ones in cases where they conflict.

The Supreme Court Has a Legitimacy Crisis, But Not For the Reason You Think
June 11, 2012

Last week, a New York Times/CBS poll found that only 44 percent of Americans approve of the Supreme Court’s job performance and 75 percent say the justices are sometimes influenced by their political views. But although the results of the poll were striking, commentators may have been too quick to suggest a direct link between the two findings.

In Defense of the Constitution: The Battle for Obamacare
June 08, 2012

AT THE END OF MARCH, when Solicitor General Donald Verrilli appeared before the Supreme Court to make the case for the Affordable Care Act, he was widely perceived to have choked. When he approached the podium in the packed courtroom, the stakes could not have been higher. Verrilli was defending the Obama administration’s central domestic achievement, a reform that had consumed the White House for the better part of the president’s first term.

Are Liberals Trying to Intimidate John Roberts?
May 28, 2012

In the current issue of TNR, I suggested that the health care decision represents a “moment of truth” for John Roberts because, if the Supreme Court overturns the Affordable Care Act by a 5-4 vote, Roberts’s "stated goal of presiding over a less divisive court will be viewed as an irredeemable failure.” This observation was intended as nothing more than a statement of the obvious. It has nonetheless provoked an outraged reaction from conservative commentators.

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