Chief Justice John Roberts of the Supreme Court cast the key, tie-breaking vote to uphold the Affordable Care Act on Thursday in what has been seen as quite the upset, given Roberts’ more conservative lean. Reactions to the controversial move are diverse, but most seem to think he had an ulterior motive in casting his vote as they answer the question, “What was John Roberts thinking?”
According to Gawker, Roberts merely “gave a lot of people who don’t pay attention reason to celebrate him on Twitter,” continuing, “They’re idiots,” explaining that in order to comfortably uphold the ACA, it had to be defined as a tax on the American people – something that President Obama, et al, have vehemently denied in their arguments in favor of the controversial healthcare initiative. But now it’s a tax. Forever. Thanks to John Roberts. Ulterior motive #1: cast the ACA as a tax on the middle class, gift-wrapping the Republicans “a talking point to carry through to November.” Marco Rubio got going just hours after the announcement, “This is the largest tax on the middle class in American history,” and he’s right.
Slate opined that though Obama won the day, the long-fix is in favor of the Right Wing. Losing in the Supreme Court would have actually been good for the left in a lot of ways. They were set to cast themselves as martyrs in a dirty party-line defeat served up by the evil Conservatives. It would have energized their base, and could have bought the president another four years to really set his legacy in motion.
Except it runs even deeper than that.
Ulterior motive #2: gut the commerce clause by defining the ACA as a tax. Completely cripple Congress and their ability to regulate. Roberts upheld the bill on the condition that it is the result of congressional power to tax; it doesn’t fit under the commerce clause, under which it actually stood a better chance of surviving long after Obama is gone. Roberts secretly rolled back a long-held precedent, and severely curtailed Congress’ power in the process. “Obama wins on policy, this time. And Roberts rewrites Congress’ power to regulate, opening the door for countless future challenges.”
According to Charles Krauthammer, Roberts’ decision was a delicate satisfaction of his own two halves: “Jurisprudentially, he is a constitutional conservative. Institutionally, he is chief justice and sees himself as uniquely entrusted with the custodianship of the court’s legitimacy, reputation and stature,” writes Krauthammer.
The Supreme Court gets a lot of criticism for what’s called “legislating from the bench,” essentially ruling on certain cases in such a way that it affects existing law, sneakily performing duties held by both the judicial and legislative branches. A lot of this is split right down the party line, and the Supreme Court’s reputation is frequently challenged for their judges’ perceived inability to be objective when it comes to interpreting new laws in light of the U.S. Constitution. Ulterior motive #3: destroy longstanding assumptions about the politicized corruption of the court, enhancing its power for another century.
With Roberts’ decision, the Supreme Court’s reputation for neutrality is maintained, and he’s bought the court more power in doing so.
Even deeper? Krauthammer opines that he wanted to put a fire under the seats of the American people. ObamaCare can still get axed, but only with a new president and congress. Repealling ObamaCare is in our hands. “That’s undoubtedly what Roberts is telling the nation: Your job, not mine. I won’t make it easy for you,” writes Krauthammer.