Report: Roberts switched his vote on the mandate

posted at 5:01 pm on July 1, 2012 by Jazz Shaw

Amazing what happens while your internet connection gets wiped out, isn’t it. Today’s breaking news is that Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts originally voted to strike down the mandate in Obamacare, but then changed his mind and sided with the liberal members of the court. Or so CBS reports.

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.

Roberts then withstood a month-long, desperate campaign to bring him back to his original position, the sources said. Ironically, Justice Anthony Kennedy – believed by many conservatives to be the justice most likely to defect and vote for the law – led the effort to try to bring Roberts back to the fold.

“He was relentless,” one source said of Kennedy’s efforts. “He was very engaged in this.”

But this time, Roberts held firm. And so the conservatives handed him their own message which, as one justice put it, essentially translated into, “You’re on your own.”

It’s a four page article with a lot to go through, but if you haven’t read it already, it’s probably worth your time. At least… maybe. This story may be true in its entirety, or at least in part, but there are a couple of things which have me holding back on it. First, it relies entirely on two “unnamed sources” which always throws up a red flag. And when it’s something this juicy regarding proceedings which are normally held closer to the vest than anything else in the nation, I have to wonder.

Second – as you’ll find out after you read through all the tawdry details – this is a dream story for CBS or anyone looking to derail conservatives. It’s got all the elements of a Victorian bodice-ripper: alliances, denials, betrayal, and most importantly it features prominent national conservative figures fighting with each other. The breathless entry about the rest of the “conservative justices” telling Roberts “you’re on your own” is the stuff of liberal journalistic legend.

When something looks too good to be true, it’s generally worth checking out further. But if it is, the conclusion the authors draw is stunning. The clear implication is that Roberts initially wanted to do away with the mandate but was reading the tea leaves of public opinion and abandoned his initial, principled stand under outside influence and out of a desire to maintain his reputation and that of the court. That’s a pretty serious charge.

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