Legal

Chief Justice Roberts was very conservative…Stop whining Republicans!

John RobertsThe aftermath of the two landmark Supreme Court rulings brought the wrath of the hardline Republicans against ‘one of their own.’  There seems to be a target on the backs of John Roberts and especially Anthony Kennedy, so I would suggest they walk through the back of the Supreme Court to their awaiting cars before another ‘Dylann Roof type nut’ comes along.

It is true that this year the court, which is objectively made up of 5 conservative and 4 liberal appointed justices, had more progressive decisions. However, the past 10 years there have been more conservative wins like Citizens United and the degradation of the Voting Rights Act.  The swing vote on many social issues have been determined by Justice Kennedy. In essence, this court is about as fair as we are going to get without it becoming too partisan.  So when this year’s decisions have inured to the benefit of liberal ideology, it had come to a great surprise to many Republicans that thought they ‘stacked the deck’ with their own to put a halt to any progressive agenda.

What these Republicans don’t understand is that they want it both ways.  Their hypocrisy is so clear that even Fox News played it down this week.  The conservative whining is unbecoming and I would suggest they take the lead from Jeb Bush and accept the rulings on Obamacare and gay marriage and get past it.  They should simply “admit the defeat’ and go for legislative actions such as religious protections as a result of the gay marriage decision and fixes in Obamacare where both sides can find common ground.  Having said that, let’s focus on Chief Justice John Roberts decisions on both Obamacare and gay marriage.

Obamacare was a partisan law that just squeaked out of Congress like a painter finishing the fingernail polish on a child’s portrait.  It was done with precision and persistence.  The Democrats mustered the 60 votes needed in the Senate (all Democrats with no Republicans) and got the majority of the House to pass this legislation. Obama quickly signed it while the ink was still drying.  Then, we dealt with the bevy (around 50 in total) of non-starter Republican sponsored votes to repeal the law and the filing of numerous lawsuits.  In the two Supreme Court decisions, Obamacare was deemed constitutional, and suddenly Chief Justice Roberts became a traitor.

If you look at the last Obamacare decision that came out on Thursday, Roberts nailed the ruling exactly on the head.  In a 6-3 majority vote, Obamacare won again.  The majority opinion, written by Roberts, was classic conservatism and not, like so many whining Republicans proffer, judicial activism.

Roberts believes in judicial restraint, a conservative philosophy.  He is not a textualist like Scalia, but a practical and consistent judge who calls balls and strikes, despite whether or not he believes in the merits of Obamacare. Isn’t that we really want from our Supreme Court judges?

Roberts rightfully said that if you look at the law in its entirety, then everyone would come to the conclusion that the words in one sentence was simply due to sloppy writing and did not reflect what the law was based on.  Not one legislator (Republicans or Democrats) ever brought up this issue until a technically sneaky right-wing lawyer found this ‘typo.’

I'm not political!

I’m not political!

Regarding Scalia, he is very selective in his opinions.  He believes that corporations are people.  Really?  It seems to me that this is writing laws that do not exist.  This is what Scalia has preached in the past.  It also smells very partisan that he believes a democracy is about the wealthy controlling politics by giving unlimited amounts of money to political candidates.  For Scalia to blast the other justices for their abandonment of democracy while voting for Citizen United seems specious.  However, now Scalia and many Republicans don’t like the majority view when it does not serve them. Can you spell hypocrisy?

If Robert’s were to agree with the minority opinion, then a law that has been established for 5 years would have been taken away by 5 unelected people in robes.  I thought that was the antipathy of the Republican Mantra…Do not legislate from the bench!  Roberts was true to his conservative principles.

Roberts vote on gay marriage, in which he sided with the minority opinion, again held true to his conservative principles.  In this case, the issue was about the definition of marriage and if it was protected under the 14th amendment, which guarantees equal protection under the law.  In my opinion, this is a basic constitutional right based on human dignity and fairness.  Conservatives argued that marriage has a specific definition between ‘one man and one woman’ and by granting marriage to gay and lesbians, they would be creating a law that had not existed.

Roberts sided with the three predictable conservatives (Scalia, Alito and Thomas) and said that this was basically a slippery slope and where would it end?  Could we have marriages amongst three people!  Can a woman marry an orangutang, like Donald Trump for instance (oops!)?  Would people of specific religious beliefs be forced to perform a gay wedding?  Of course not!

In my opinion, the conservative justices conflated gay marriage with religious protections and doctrines. I thought we have a separation of church and state?  Apparently, the conservative justices ‘picked and chose’ which parts of the constitution were more worthy.  I can’t think of anything more worthy than equal protection under the law.

However, Roberts chose to stay conservative on this issue with the ‘cover’ of not legislating from the bench. Sure, individual States could have legislated gay marriage throughout of the U.S..  However, there might have been many states that would prevent this basic right for many years, and for that reason the majority of the court made the right decision as equal protection delayed is unconstitutional.  There is precedent for the courts to get involved, such as Brown vs. The Board of Education, that ended segregation in schools.  At one point, it was illegal to have interracial marriages in many states and the court intervened.  This is not the definition of judicial activism if you believe in the 14th amendment.  It is there to protect minority rights when it comes to equality for all.

Liberals and progressives across the land should thank Justice Anthony Kennedy for being so influential in these two historic decisions. It is nice to see that there are some justices that are not strictly partisan.  As for Chief Justice John Roberts, he was a true conservative and the even though I think he called one strike and one ball, at least he was consistent.

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