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Roberts Switched


Jan Crawford has reporting that confirms what one could infer from the opinions — Roberts switched:

Chief Justice John Roberts initially sided with the Supreme Court’s four conservative justices to strike down the heart of President Obama’s health care reform law, the Affordable Care Act, but later changed his position and formed an alliance with liberals to uphold the bulk of the law, according to two sources with specific knowledge of the deliberations.

Roberts then withstood a month-long, desperate campaign to bring him back to his original position, the sources said. Ironically, Justice Anthony Kennedy – believed by many conservatives to be the justice most likely to defect and vote for the law – led the effort to try to bring Roberts back to the fold.

“He was relentless,” one source said of Kennedy’s efforts. “He was very engaged in this.”

I believe the reporting; Crawford is well-connected, and if you can overlook her sympathy with Federalist Society legal views her book was actually very good and had a lot of interesting nuggets. Granted, you can see some elements of her biases here — Kennedy has been “remarkably consistent” on federalism cases ? — but I have no reason to doubt that she has the story right here.

There’s some other interesting stuff too — most notably, the dissent was written independently from Roberts, was written jointly, and ignored Roberts out of pique, all of which makes sense to me.

…I also agree with Linda Greenhouse that the clerks in the neoconfederate chambers pretty clearly leaked the word of Roberts’s switch before the fact, and the timeline established by Crawford adds further proof. There’s no way all those op-eds making the same arguments about the pressure on Roberts coming out right after he switched were a coincidence.

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