By JOHN YOO, June 29, 2012, –
White House judge-pickers sometimes ask prospective nominees about their favorite Supreme Court justice. The answers can reveal a potential judge’s ideological leanings without resorting to litmus tests. Republican presidential candidates similarly promise to appoint more judges like so-and-so to reassure the conservative base.
Since his appointment to the high court in 2005, the most popular answer was Chief Justice John Roberts. But that won’t remain true after his ruling on Thursday in NFIB v. Sebelius, which upheld President Barack Obama’s signature health-care law.
Editorial board member Dorothy Rabinowitz and assistant editorial page editor James Freeman on why John Roberts sided with liberal justices in upholding the individual mandate. Photo: Getty Images
Justice Roberts served in the Reagan Justice Department and as a White House lawyer before his appointment to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals and then to the Supreme Court by President George W. Bush. Yet he joined with the court’s liberal wing to bless the greatest expansion of federal power in decades.
Conservatives are scrambling to salvage something from the decision of their once-great judicial hero. Some hope Sebelius covertly represents a “substantial victory,” in the words of conservative columnist George Will.