Why John Roberts Saved Obamacare

  • CNN: The inside story of how – and why – John Roberts negotiated to save Obamacare

  • National Review: Will the Threat of Court-Packing Intimidate John Roberts?

By Joan Biskupic, March 21, 2019

CNN – Chief Justice John Roberts arrived at the Valletta campus of the University of Malta on July 3, 2012, to teach a class on Supreme Court history.

As he emerged from the back seat of a black sedan, he held his brown leather briefcase in front of him, almost as a shield. He wore a blue blazer, striped button-down shirt, and tan khakis.

His clothes looked crisp, though his face was haggard. He was as exhausted and distressed as he had been in years.

Roberts had left behind a storm in Washington over his opinion upholding President Barack Obama’s health-care overhaul — the Affordable Care Act — a stunning validation of Obama’s signature domestic achievement that transformed public perceptions of the chief justice.

Republicans in Congress had been fighting the law dubbed Obamacare at every turn for two years, and all the GOP presidential candidates in 2012 had vowed to repeal it. And now Roberts, a nominee of President George W. Bush, had saved it.

Going forward, the chief justice would be viewed with skepticism by conservatives, despite also having taken the lead on limiting racial remedies and voting rights, helping roll back campaign finance regulations and voting for stronger Second Amendment gun rights.

Roberts’ moves behind the scenes were as extraordinary as his ruling.

He changed course multiple times. He was part of the majority of justices who initially voted in a private conference to strike down the individual insurance mandate — the heart of the law — but he also voted to uphold an expansion of Medicaid for people near the poverty line.

Two months later, Roberts had shifted on both.

The final tallies, 5-4 to uphold the individual mandate and 7-2 to curtail the Medicaid plan, came after weeks of negotiations and trade-offs among the justices.

The ACA, signed by Obama in 2010, followed decades of failed attempts in Washington to control spiraling medical costs and provide Americans with higher-quality health care. Read more. 

Will the Threat of Court-Packing Intimidate John Roberts?

There is good reason for doubt.

By PETER J. WALLISON, March 20, 2019

National Review – The Left is working on various plans for “packing” the Supreme Court.

These plans would neutralize or reverse the current conservative majority on the Court by adding a number of new associate justices to be named by a future Democratic president.

The likelihood that a Democratic president will be able to pack the Supreme Court is slim to none, but the real purpose is to influence the current Court, not install a new one.

Court-packing was first tried by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1937, after the Supreme Court had struck down two New Deal initiatives because they unconstitutionally delegated legislative authority to the president.

The Constitution separates legislative and executive power: Only Congress can make a law; the executive branch limited to the law’s administration and enforcement.

Roosevelt’s plan was not popular with the American people, and it did not pass Congress. But it appeared to cow the Court.

Not only did the Court begin to modify its views of New Deal legislation, but it never again declared a law to be unconstitutional because it delegated legislative power to the executive branch.

As a result, the power of the federal government’s administrative agencies — the “administrative state” — has grown rapidly since the New Deal.

Much of this administrative authority seems to be legislative in character, but without the Supreme Court deciding what constitutes a delegation of legislative authority, there is no way to impose limits on this growth.

In general, the Left is pleased with the policies of the administrative state. The ever-multiplying rules and regulations both expand on the laws made by Congress and are issued by a bureaucracy in and around Washington, D.C. … Read more.

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