My Brief Take on John Roberts

If he’s truly devoted to the process of sticking with precedent, then I am relieved. If we’re back into the realm where people say “Here are my arguments and here’s the evidence for how I came to this conclusion” and we either change each other’s minds or not, but at least it’s based on real things, not “My team rocks. Your team sucks cocks.” then I welcome it.

5 thoughts on “My Brief Take on John Roberts

  1. I think he’s a bit between the first two. He seems to follow Holmes’ (him, right?) view that the Court should look to support and explain the law in question where possible and only declare it unconstitutional where necessary.

    Roberts has been deeply concerned with court legitimacy since his appointment, and his ruling seems more about that than about stare decisis strictly understood. but maybe that is partly as being concerned about too much “my team rocks. Your team sucks cocks.”

    Read at least the beginning of his decision where he does two really interesting things aimed at a lay audience: 1) carefully and repeatedly insists that the court does not speak to the value of policies, only to their legality and 2) gives a nice civics lesson on federal powers.

    Hopefully, though, his actions here can help us get a little more of your second if statement type of discussions.

  2. I believe this was an easy one for Roberts. The ACA, despite the frothing of right-wing reactionaries (which encompasses the lion’s share of our public discourse these days), is less a government intrusion into free choice than a government subsidy of corporate profit and power. In both conservative (i.e. Roberts) and neoliberal (i.e. Obama) views, government exists to facilitate wealth and power for those already wealthy and powerful. The ACA supports that goal more than it threatens it, as it bends over backward to feed the very beast that must be slain in order to move toward true universal coverage.

  3. To give Roberts credit where it’s due, though, this decision– if we can interpret the ACA as an entrenchment of the pro-corporate status quo– may demonstrate that he’s cleverer than his conservative (and reactionary) colleagues on the court.

  4. Sam, I think your second point is right. But I also think, and maybe this is just me being an old fart, that 1.) whatever system there is that needs to be reformed, it’s not going to happen in my lifetime. I just don’t want to be crushed by it. And 2.) It is somewhat easier to avoid being crushed by a system that has rules and hasn’t descended into willy-nilly reactionary chaos.

    I am really hoping that Roberts’ decision marks a return to rules-based bullshit.

  5. Have you seen the article by Paul Campos in Salon that suggests that Roberts changed his vote on this case at more or less the last minute? I’m not knowledgeable enough about the language of Supreme Court decisions to judge whether Campos is on to something real. But if he is, then I think we have to conclude that at least Roberts wants to avoid the appearance of “My team rocks. Your team sucks cocks.” And if he does, maybe he’ll figure out that the best way not to look like that is not to act like that.

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