John Roberts

Big Chief
July 13, 2012

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States of Confusion
July 13, 2012

The Supreme Court’s decision in the health care case is best understood as an attempt to maximize damage to established legal precedent while minimizing damage to the particular law under consideration. On the one hand, Chief Justice John Roberts wanted to maintain the Supreme Court as a playpen for anti-government sophistry. On the other, Roberts wanted to avoid getting pilloried as a right-wing extremist who doesn’t care whether people get health insurance or not.

A Texan on Perry's Medicaid Rejection: 'Devastating'
July 11, 2012

Texas Governor Rick Perry on Monday said that he wants no part of the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of Medicaid. Perry isn’t the first Republican governor to take this position. Five others, including Florida’s Rick Scott and Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal, announced their opposition to the expansion last week.

The WSJ Editorial Page Has, Er, A Point
July 03, 2012

My first reaction to the conservative fulminating against John Roberts was that the right doesn’t realize how good they have it. The chief justice finds a way to limit future government activism while preserving (actually resurrecting) the nonpartisan standing of the Supreme Court, and all for the low-cost of a affirming domestic program that, while no doubt detested, was democratically enacted, and conservatives can’t find something nice to say about him?

How Post-Decision Leaks Will Change the Supreme Court
July 03, 2012

“So much for the theory that the Court doesn’t leak,” a friend emailed me, dissing my TNR essay on Supreme Court secrecy in light of Jan Crawford’s blockbuster revelation about the internal deliberations behind the Obamacare decision less than a week after it was announced. “I am told by two sources with specific knowledge of the court’s deliberations that Roberts initially sided with the conservatives in this case and was prepared to strike down…the individual mandate,” Crawford said, on CBS’ Face the Nation.

Who’s the Supreme Court Leaker?
July 02, 2012

If for some reason you haven’t read the remarkable Jan Crawford piece about how John Roberts changed his vote on health care, then you really should. As Jonathan Cohn points out, Crawford is well-sourced and highly credible on matters involving legal conservatives, and she based her account on “two sources with specific knowledge of the deliberations.” The obvious next question, as Orin Kerr writes, is “who leaked”?

Did Roberts Change His Vote?
July 02, 2012

Did Chief Justice John Roberts change his vote in the Obamacare case? Court observers were speculating about that possibility almost as soon as the five-to-four decision upholding the law came down on Thursday. And now it looks like Roberts really did switch.

Welcome to the Roberts Court: How the Chief Justice Used Obamacare to Reveal His True Identity
June 29, 2012

In 2006, at the end of his first term as Chief Justice, John Roberts told me that he was determined to place the bipartisan legitimacy of the Court above his own ideological agenda. But he recognized the difficulty of the task. “It’s sobering to think of the seventeen chief justices,” he said.

The President, the Chief Justice, and the Woman With Cancer
June 28, 2012

President Obama gave a subdued, if satisfied, statement on Thursday, after learning that the Supreme Court had upheld the Afforable Care Act. But he finished it off with a personal note. He told his fellow Americans about a letter hanging in his office, from an Ohio woman named Natoma Canfield. Canfield, a breast cancer survivor and self-employed housekeeper, had written the letter in late 2009, as the fate of what would become Obamacare remained very much in doubt.

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.