Many conservatives are angry with Chief Justice John Roberts, whose decisive vote in late June not only sustained a disastrous health-care law. It also interpreted the Constitution to permit Congress to penalize behavior through its taxing power that it cannot control through its power to regulate commerce.
Magnifying the harm is a CBS News report—and informed suspicions from a number of sources—that Chief Justice Roberts initially voted to strike down the law but switched in the face of veiled threats from President Barack Obama and concerns about the court’s reputation and his own.
Some conservatives were also disappointed that Chief Justice Roberts joined fellow conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy and the four liberal justices earlier in June in striking down portions of Arizona’s immigration law. They considered the ruling a blow against federalism.
The upshot is that Chief Justice Roberts has become a “swing” justice on the Supreme Court—along with Justice Kennedy, who has occupied the swing position held by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor until she was replaced by conservative Justice Samuel Alito in 2006. The court now is composed of three solid conservatives and four solid liberals, with Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Kennedy leaning conservative.
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