Alaska Dispatch News
July 1, 2015
Summer recess can come none too soon for the U.S. Supreme Court—some of those folks clearly need a timeout.
The dissents of Justices Antonin Scalia and John Roberts to last week’s decision on the same-sex marriage for Obergefell v. Hodges removed any doubt these supposed judicial leaders of our society have fallen into “partisan rancor” that “impedes their ability to carry out their functions.” Ironically, those are the words of Chief Justice Roberts describing the dysfunction of Congress in a speech in 2014.
Scalia sounded like a petulant teenager when he said (because he didn’t like the reasoning of the majority of his colleagues) he would “hide his head in a bag” if he were to join in such an opinion of the court written by five of the nine top jurists in the country. And the learned Scalia wrote “Huh?” in his dissent — expressing his puzzlement with the majority ruling. “Huh” in a U.S. Supreme Court opinion?
But glancing at an end-of term snapshot can be misleading. The more meaningful way to look at the court is as a movie, one starring Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. as a canny strategist with a tough side, and his eyes on the horizon. He is just 58 and is likely to lead the court for another two decades or more.
Chief Justice Roberts has proved adept at persuading the court’s more liberal justices to join compromise opinions, allowing him to cite their concessions years later as the basis for closely divided and deeply polarizing conservative victories.
His patient and methodical approach has allowed him to establish a robustly conservative record while ranking second only to Justice Anthony Kennedy as the justice most frequently in the majority.
“This court takes the long view,” said Kannon K. Shanmugam, a lawyer with Williams & Connolly in Washington. “It proceeds in incremental steps.”
On Tuesday, when the court struck down a part of the Voting Rights Act, Chief Justice Roberts harvested seeds he had planted four years before. In his 2009 opinion, writing for eight justices, he allowed the Voting Rights Act to stand. But the price he exacted from the court’s liberal wing was language quoted in Tuesday’s decision that seems likely to ensure the demise of the law’s centerpiece, Section 5, which requires federal oversight of states with a history of discrimination.
Rumor: Glenn Beck; NSA Used to Blackmail Chief Justice Roberts for Obamacare?
Before Its News has an anonymous source who has provided this information on the scandal Glenn Beck promises to reveal on Thursday, June 13, 2013.
Here’s the GLENN BECK scandal that he will reveal within 24 hours…
It will be announced that hacked emails were used to blackmail and extort Chief Justice Roberts. Very embarrassing emails were obtained, and he was told to vote to declare Obamacare constitutional, or his family life would be destroyed.PREPARE.
Of course, one should consider the source. BeforeItsNews is the kind of site you frequent for one of 3 reasons…
- Alex Jones is too nuanced and leftist for you
- You are totally off your medications
- You just want more entertainment than "The Onion" can provide
It’s a site dedicated to the very worst the dregs of the right wing / anti-Jewish / anti-Muslim population out there. Many of the comments wouldn’t be out of place on Stormfront or V-dare.
Of course the whole “Roberts was blackmailed” meme has been accepted as gospel for a long time over on GriftRepublic.
Who is going to enjoy Chicken with yogurt and an Indian spice mix.
When he was in his late 20s, John Roberts was a foot soldier in the Reagan administration’s crusade against the Voting Rights Act. Now, as chief justice of the Supreme Court, he will help determine whether a key part of the law survives a constitutional challenge.
Memos that Roberts wrote as a lawyer in President Reagan’s Justice Department during the 1980s show that he was deeply involved in efforts to curtail the effectiveness of the Voting Rights Act, the hard-won landmark 1965 law that is intended to ensure all Americans can vote. Roberts’ anti-VRA efforts during the 1980s ultimately failed. But on Wednesday, when the Supreme Court hears oral arguments in Shelby County v. Holder, he’ll get another chance to gut the law. Roberts’ history suggests a crucial part of the VRA may not survive the rematch.
At issue in Shelby County is whether a major portion of the Voting Rights Act, called Section 5, is constitutional. Section 5 compels jurisdictions with a history of discrimination, mostly in the South, to ask the Justice Department for permission—preclearance, in legalese—before making any changes to election laws. Shelby County, Alabama, is arguing that Section 5 is an extreme measure that is no longer justified because racism is no longer the problem it once was. If Section 5 is overturned, voting rights groups say, the federal government’s ability to ensure Americans are not denied the right to vote on the basis of race—at a time when race has been used as a proxy for party identification—will be severely weakened.
Shelby County offers Roberts an opportunity to complete a mission he began three decades ago. When the chief justice was a young lawyer, in 1981, Southern legislators hoped an ascendant conservative movement could pressure Reagan into opposing an extension of the VRA. In June of that year, Reagan wrote a letter to Attorney General William French Smith requesting an “assessment” of the law.
Many conservatives have taken the outcome of the Obamacare case, known to the courts as National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, none too well. Their response is understandable: In an unusual judgment featuring two distinct 5-4 voting blocs bridged only by the chief justice, the Supreme Court concluded that Obamacare’s individual mandate was not constitutional as an exercise of Congress’s power over commerce, but was perfectly valid as a tax.
That conclusion is troubling, to say the least. While the decision penned by Chief Justice Roberts purported to place some bounds on Congress’s ability to regulate using the commerce clause, the four justices who shared Roberts’s conclusion refused to join his opinion — meaning that the commerce-clause limits Roberts endorsed may not be binding in future cases. Meanwhile, the rest of Roberts’s opinion, joined by the Court’s four more liberal justices, suggested that most any regulation Congress might wish to enact could simply be re-characterized as a tax — and be constitutionally sound as a result. Conservatives are right to be deeply worried.
Still, one did not have to listen too closely to the outcry on the right to hear more than concern about legal reasoning. Conservatives’ reaction was laced with a certain bitterness — a deeply felt, almost personal anger at the Court and its justices, particularly Chief Justice Roberts. This sense of betrayal was moved not only by a conviction that the Court had gotten the law wrong, but also by disgruntlement at having lost a profoundly important political battle — and at the hands of a supposed ally.
While conservatives surely have cause to be vexed with the Court for its legal judgment, it is this sense of betrayal that exposes just how dangerous the Court as an institution has become. The true peril posed by the Supreme Court in our time lies in the idea that the Court can ever serve as an ally, that it can resolve political difficulties, and that it can be counted upon as a political partner or an agent of political reform. It should do none of those things, and it threatens our constitutional order precisely to the degree that it attempts them.
The Supreme Court returns to the bench on Monday to confront not only a docket studded with momentous issues but also a new dynamic among the justices.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., center, will be scrutinized for signs of whether he has moved to the ideological center after his unexpected decision on President Obama’s health care law.
The coming term will probably include major decisions on affirmative action in higher education admissions, same-sex marriage and a challenge to the heart of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Those rulings could easily rival the last term’s as the most consequential in recent memory.
The theme this term is the nature of equality, and it will play out over issues that have bedeviled the nation for decades. “Last term will be remembered for one case,” said Kannon K. Shanmugam, a lawyer with Williams & Connolly. “This term will be remembered for several.”
The term will also provide signals about the repercussions of Chief Justice John G. Roberts’s surprise decision in June to join the court’s four more liberal members and supply the decisive fifth vote in the landmark decision to uphold President Obama’s health care law. Every decision of the new term will be scrutinized for signs of whether Chief Justice Roberts, who had been a reliable member of the court’s conservative wing, has moved toward the ideological center of the court.
“The salient question is: Is it a little bit, or is it a lot?” said Paul D. Clement, a lawyer for the 26 states on the losing side of the core of the health care decision.
During the debate of the Obamacare mandate at the Supreme Court Justice Kennedy says that the mandate fundamentally changes the relationship of a citizen with the government.
CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: The key in Lochner is that we were talking about regulation of the States, right, and the States are not limited to enumerated powers. The Federal Government is. And it seems to me it’s an entirely different question when you ask yourself whether or not there are going to be limits in the Federal power, as opposed to limits on the States, which was the issue in Lochner.
SOLICITOR GENERAL VERRILLI: I agree, except, Mr. Chief Justice, that what the Court has said as I read the Court’s cases is that the way in which you ensure that the Federal Government stays in its sphere and the sphere reserved for the States is protected is by policing the boundary: Is the national government regulating economic activity with a substantial effect on interstate commerce?
JUSTICE KENNEDY: But the reason, the reason this is concerning, is because it requires the individual to do an affirmative act. In the law of torts our tradition, our law, has been that you don’t have the duty to rescue someone if that person is in danger. The blind man is walking in front of a car and you do not have a duty to stop him absent some relation between you. And there is some severe moral criticisms of that rule, but that’s generally the rule.
From the inaugural oath do-over to an unprecedented State of the Union throwdown, relations between President Obama and the conservative members of the Supreme Court have had an unusually cantankerous feel.
If it had been up to Obama, after all, John G. Roberts Jr. would not have been holding the Bible at the president’s swearing-in, and Samuel A. Alito Jr. would still have been in his New Jersey judicial chambers rather than in the second row of the House mouthing “not true” during Obama’s 2010 address to the nation. As a senator, Obama voted against the Supreme Court confirmations of both men.
But these days, the president must hope that grudges are put aside. He will need at least one Republican-appointed justice on the increasingly conservative court to uphold the signature domestic achievement of his presidency: health-care reform. The court’s four liberals, two appointed by Obama, are forecast as reliable votes in favor. But Obama needs at least five.
In six hours of oral arguments over three days later this month — the most time the court has spent on a case in 45 years — the Obama administration will try to convince the justices that the Constitution grants Congress broad power to regulate interstate commerce and provide for the national interest. Broad enough to require that almost every American purchase health insurance or pay a penalty.
Roberts, who appears less dedicated to federalism than was his predecessor and mentor, William H. Rehnquist, may be “gettable” on such a question. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, the usual go-to conservative for liberals, is a realistic possibility. Even Justice Antonin Scalia, the court’s most irascible conservative, might be lured aboard. Alito’s past votes make him more of a mystery.
The court’s liberals — Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan — are solid on the question of Congress’s broad authority. On the other side, Justice Clarence Thomas has spent his 20 years on the court as a voice for the view that the Constitution mandates a far more limited role for the federal government.
“I think the rest are more or less perceived as being in play,” said Erwin Chemerinsky, the liberal dean of the University of California at Irvine Law School.
Walter Dellinger, a former acting solicitor general and one of the health-care law’s most ardent constitutional cheerleaders, has long predicted that the vote upholding the legislation will be lopsided and that Roberts will be in the majority to write the opinion. (When on the prevailing side, the chief justice writes the opinion or chooses the colleague who gets the job.)
“The reason I think Chief Justice Roberts will write the opinion is because I think he will want to write a narrow opinion,” Dellinger said. It would recognize that there are limits on Congress’s powers, he said, but that the Constitution’s commerce clause is fully met in a law that deals with the “intimately intertwined” issues of health care, insurance and interstate markets.