Friday, June 29, 2012
Did Roberts Switch Sides at the Last Minute?
By Guy Benson
If these early strands of legal detective work are correct, the revelation they've uncovered pours mounds of salt into the wound:
Scalia’s dissent, at least on first quick perusal, reads like it was originally written as a majority opinion http://lsolum.typepad.com/legaltheory/2012/06/evidence-that-the-votes-shifted-after-conference-initial-vote-to-declare-mandate-unconstitutional.html (in particular, he consistently refers to Justice Ginsburg’s opinion as “The Dissent”). Back in May, there were rumors floating around relevant legal circles that a key vote was taking place, and that Roberts was feeling tremendous pressure from unidentified circles to vote to uphold the mandate. Did Roberts originally vote to invalidate the mandate on commerce clause grounds, and to invalidate the Medicaid expansion, and then decide later to accept the tax argument and essentially rewrite the Medicaid expansion (which, as I noted, citing Jonathan Cohn, was the sleeper issue in this case) to preserve it? If so, was he responding to the heat from President Obama and others, preemptively threatening to delegitimize the Court if it invalidated the ACA? The dissent, along with the surprising way that Roberts chose to uphold both the mandate and the Medicaid expansion, will inevitably feed the rumor mill.
Among other things, the joint dissent’s discussion of the taxing power doesn’t respond to the Chief Justice’s opinion (indeed, I think it never even cites it). Rather, it addresses only the government’s argument. By contrast, the Chief’s opinion repeatedly takes issue with the joint dissent. This strongly suggests to me that the joint dissent was written first, as the proposed majority opinion, but failed to garner the fifth vote from the Chief.
What's done is done, but my goodness -- this is astonishing and maddening, if true.
To read another article by Guy Benson, click here.
Posted by Brett at 12:22 AM