The reason Supreme Court Justices are given lifetime terms is to prevent public opinion or political pressure from influencing their vote. That was why I have largely ignored speculation since the Obamacare ruling which suggested Chief Justice John Roberts changed his vote in May from invalidating the individual mandate as unconstitutional to allowing it to survive as a tax.
No more ignoring it now that the Robert's flip has been confirmed in a 4 page CBS News report.
Quick summary from NRO:
As Daniel and Pat mention below, CBS’ Jan Crawford is reporting that John Roberts switched his vote in the Obamacare case, much as Anthony Kennedy did in the 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey abortion case. Crawford has come out with a more detailed report, whose key points include:
- Anthony Kennedy took the lead, and was “relentless,” in trying to get Roberts to re-join the conservative bloc.
- The conservatives found Roberts’s reasoning so flawed that they refused to join, or even acknowledge, his opinion, even in the areas where they agreed (such as the limits to the Commerce Clause).
- Roberts’ change of heart was almost certain to have been driven by left-wing media anger around the possibility that the law would be overturned. Roberts reads the papers, and is very concerned about the Court’s image.
- Roberts tried to lobby Kennedy to join him and leave the other conservatives, but Kennedy refused.
- The conservative dissent was not originally written as a majority opinion, as some have speculated, but reads strangely because the conservatives refused to acknowledge Roberts’s opinion.
If Supreme Court Justices can be bought off with the offer of good publicity vs bad, they lose their status as an independent branch of the government.
This is much worse than if Robert's had genuinely believed that the individual mandate was unconstitutional as written by Democrats and sold to the American people by Barack Obama, under the Commerce and Necessary and Proper Clauses, but was validated by being a tax.
If that were the case, Conservatives may have not liked the ruling but many, like myself, would have at least understood it as I suggested the day of the ruling, but to have gone against his own reading, understanding and interpretation of the Constitution, which is his sworn responsibility to uphold, will bring the public's confidence level in the Supreme Court to lows never seen before.