#Obamacare Watch: John Roberts’ Revenge.

Lemme translate this:

A reform aimed at getting more [young people] to buy coverage would have to make it even more stupid for them to remain uninsured. Some reformers would do so with a firm individual mandate backed with a stiff penalty. But the Supreme Court last year said a legal requirement to buy coverage would be unconstitutional and transformed Obamacare’s mandate and penalty into a tax on the uninsured. And since forcing people to buy a product they don’t want doesn’t make for great politics, that penalty (now tax) was in any case set much too low to fundamentally change the financial calculation for most people.

Roughly: Do not assume that John Roberts is on Barack Obama’s Christmas card list.  This is one devil of a pickle that the Supreme Court has gotten the Democratic party into; the President is not exactly in a position to raise taxes on anybody, let alone young people.

Moe Lane

48 hours later: Jan Crawford’s explosive, unverified, Supreme Court allegations.

Executive summary: two days ago CBS News Chief Political and Legal Correspondent Jan Crawford authored an article that alleged that Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts ‘went wobbly’ on Thursday’s Supreme Court decision for reasons unrelated to his determination of the legal merits of the case. Ms. Crawford also alleged that there is ongoing fallout between Roberts and the four Justices that dissented with the 5-4 majority that held that Obamacare was legal as a tax; and she is at least insinuating that Roberts’ decision was based on calculation of how the decision would be received by the American Left and/or the Media (but I repeat myself).  As you might imagine, this story has gotten a little play in conservative and Republican news sources, in much the same way that the Amazon river is somewhat damp.

Now, the above is a rather serious allegation about Chief Justice Roberts.  And it is in fact an allegation that – if true – is very problematical.  But what is also problematical is that the entire story rests on two uncorroborated, anonymous sources.  Now, admittedly, Jan Crawford is a very well-respected, very knowledgeable, and very well-connected reporter on the Supreme Court.  She is, in fact, more well-respected, more knowledgeable, and more well-connected than I am on this matter.  But… her story is still based on two uncorroborated, anonymous sources; and in the forty-eight hours I have not in fact seen anything that would back up the allegations in her story.  The closest to it that I have seen is John Fund’s article; John indicates that his anonymous sources are telling him that Roberts had been pretty much equivocal about tossing the entire law all along.  Now that, if true, is a significant difference from Crawford’s lede “Chief Justice John Roberts initially sided with the Supreme Court’s four conservative justices to strike down the heart of President Obama’s health care reform law, the Affordable Care Act, but later changed his position and formed an alliance with liberals to uphold the bulk of the law, according to two sources with specific knowledge of the deliberations. ” – and it doesn’t actually address any suggestion that Roberts changed his mind on non-judicial grounds. Continue reading 48 hours later: Jan Crawford’s explosive, unverified, Supreme Court allegations.

#rsrh QotD, The Blind Lecturing The… Not Blind, I Guess edition.

George Will, gently explaining to Senator Patrick Leahy – a man who, as Will puts it, “probably no longer knows when he sounds insufferably patronizing” – why he’s probably going to be swinging and missing when it comes to trying to break Chief Justice John Roberts to what we will charitably call Sen. Leahy’s ‘will:’

Leahy intimated that overturning Obamacare would be as momentous, as divisive of the nation and as damaging to the court as was Bush v. Gore, which he asserts “shook the confidence of the American people in the Supreme Court.” But surely a striking fact about that decision is how equably Americans accepted it. This testified to the court’s durable prestige, which is a function of the court’s immunity to pressures from politicians. Public approval of the court is above 50 percent, that of Congress below 20 percent.

I’ll add the obvious point that Leahy is himself one of the reasons why Congress is loathed so much.  Thirty-plus years in the Senate, and what is he going to be best-remembered for? Being an extra in The Dark Knight.  Which is admittedly cool, but all the things that he’ll be worst-remembered for – including Obamacare, if we’re not lucky – are going to kind of overwhelm it…

(H/T Hot Air Headlines)

#rsrh Chief Justice Roberts used Citizen’s United to give Souter a SPECIAL send-off.

Oh, this is entertaining, in a nasty-fun sort of way.  It’s an accounting of the way that Citizens United went down, and you can almost hear Jeffrey Toobin’s teeth grinding over every word. If this account is correct, what happened was the combination of a truly awful oral argument and a favorable pro-reform opinion coming from perennial swing vote Anthony Kennedy; Chief Justice John Roberts took advantage of the latter to assign Kennedy the job of writing the majority opinion, thus ensuring that several decades’ worth of onerous free speech restrictions got gut-shot and left to die at the side of the road*.

At this point, soon-to-retire Justice David Souter got his nose out of joint on the subject and decided to effectively flip off the Court on his way out the door; having been assigned the minority opinion, Souter was prepared to snipe at the majority in his dissent.  Roberts then demonstrated why George W Bush had made a good call by making him Chief Justice:

Roberts didn’t mind spirited disagreement on the merits of any case, but Souter’s attack—an extraordinary, bridge-burning farewell to the Court—could damage the Court’s credibility. So the Chief came up with a strategically ingenious maneuver. He would agree to withdraw Kennedy’s draft majority opinion and put Citizens United down for reargument, in the fall. For the second argument, the Court would write new Questions Presented, which frame a case before argument, and there would be no doubt about the stakes of the case. The proposal put the liberals in a box. They could no longer complain about being sandbagged, because the new Questions Presented would be unmistakably clear. But, as Roberts knew, the conservatives would go into the second argument already having five votes for the result they wanted. With no other choice (and no real hope of ever winning the case), the liberals agreed to the reargument.

Continue reading #rsrh Chief Justice Roberts used Citizen’s United to give Souter a SPECIAL send-off.

An Obama/Roberts match is unlikely, alas.

I’ve been meaning to mention this for a week, and am now finally getting around to this particular absurdity regarding a hypothetical rhetorical match-up between President Obama vs. Chief Justice Roberts:

The debate between the men, by necessity, takes place in this way — indirectly, and soon through the confirmation hearing of a new nominee. Christopher Edley Jr., an Obama adviser and dean of the law school at the University of California at Berkeley, said it was a shame the two could not have at it one on one.

“Televise this chief justice and this president on stage at the Kennedy Center for three hours talking about the role of government and the future of our polity,” Mr. Edley said. “This historic clash of intellectual titans would be the most powerful civics lesson since the Federalist Papers, and we could sure use it.”

Why am I calling it an absurdity? Continue reading An Obama/Roberts match is unlikely, alas.