New evidence in the closely observed health care upset suggests that politics may have played a large role in Chief Justice John Roberts’ deciding vote in upholding the Affordable Care Act.
Since the ruling came out on Thursday, conservatives have lamented the fact that Congress is now forcing Americans to buy a private product. To add insult to injury - the betrayal of conservative Chief Justice Robert’s vote.
Why would a conservative judge vote against the four members of his party on such a divided case? It doesn’t make any sense. It makes me wonder whether this was his true opinion, or whether there was an ulterior motive.
Rush Limbaugh made a statement on Monday accusing Roberts of being “run by the media” and questioned whether he was attempting to uphold the reputation of the court and the president.
If this decision was Roberts’ trying to stand for what he believed, that would be one thing. However, CBS News’s Jan Crawford confirmed in a report on Sunday that Roberts had originally voted with the court’s four other Republican justices to strike the mandate, then switched his vote and sided with the court’s Democratic justices in upholding the law.
After arguments in March, it was publicly disclosed that Roberts and the four conservative justices were prepared to strike down the individual mandate.
Since there was no precedent in this case, the justices were in new territory. In order to strike down the individual mandate as exceeding the Commerce Clause, the court would have had to write a new theory, which would undoubtedly be highly criticized, especially since the law passed so recently under the same administration.
The ruling upholding the law leaves conservatives thinking that Roberts was afraid to take the unpopular position of striking down a law, even if he originally believed that was the right thing to do. Others believe that Roberts was swayed by outside lobbying, and/or comments by the president.
Either way, it seems that the chief justice has put a political agenda or reputation of the court ahead of defending the Constitution, which is not the job for which he was appointed.
After Thursday’s outcome, it is more important than ever that we make a change in our administration in the upcoming elections. There is a chance of repeal that will become more likely as a result of Republican victory in the presidency and takeover in the Senate.