As Ruth Bader Ginsburg said at a conference earlier this month, “Those who know don’t talk. And those who talk don’t know.”
So nearly everyone was surprised when the court upheld the health care act Thursday.
Analysts provided instant analysis. Roberts didn’t want to be known as the justice who struck down universal health care. Roberts wanted to show that the court was above the political fray. Roberts connived to galvanize the Republican base. Roberts simply wanted to do the right thing.
John Roberts Jr.
The New York Times wrote:
“Many scholars have said that Chief Justice Roberts is seeking to balance his own conservatism with his desire to build faith in the law and the nation’s legal institutions. But it was still striking to hear the chief justice, who was appointed to the court in 2005 by President George W. Bush, announce the upholding of the central legislative pillar of the Obama administration.”
It’s also worth remembering previous encounters between the two men.
As a U.S. senator, Obama voted against Roberts’s nomination to the court.
Roberts, in turn, botched the oath of office during Obama’s inauguration.
The Roberts court later upheld Citizens United, lifting restrictions on political contributions by businesses and unions.
Obama denounced the ruling as he faced Roberts and other justices during his 2010 State of the Union.
Obama, of course, was much happier with yesterday’s outcome. Consider it a temporary detente.