In case you haven’t noticed, conservatives are pushing back against the efforts of the Obama administration (and allies) to pressure Chief Justice Roberts to uphold ObamaCare when the decision is handed down this summer.
The Washington Post’s Jen Rubin reminds readers that the “popular opinion” narrative utilized by liberals is laughable on its face:
The Obama-Leahy-Rosen tag team would ask that Roberts subscribe to some alternate political reality in which Obamacare is very popular and the public would be shocked and rise up in anger that the Supreme Court would overturn the “popular will.” (They must assume Roberts isn’t aware more than 70 percent of the public think the law is unconstitutional.)
The Wall Street Journal adds:
The truth is that shouts of a “radical” Court are heard every time the Justices break with liberal orthodoxy, however modestly. The same journalists now warning about a radical states-rights agenda rang the same alarms in 1995 after the Rehnquist Court said Congress couldn’t use the Commerce Clause to regulate guns near schools in Lopez.
And National Review picks up on this theme, writing:
Liberal attacks on the conservative justices have not proven especially harmful in the court of public opinion. The Lopez decision of 1995, a reassertion of federalism, was greeted by the New York Times as a revival of the Articles of Confederation. Liberaldom treated Bush v. Gore as a kind of jurisprudential hate crime. Public confidence in the Court stayed steady, and liberals mostly moved on. In more recent years, it is true, public esteem for the Court has dipped, but it remains high and the drop seems attributable to the public’s general sourness with governmental institutions rather than to the success of liberal attacks.
Conservatives are hardly innocent in the war on the independent judiciary. Newt Gingrich, for instance, started a minor controversy during the primaries when he insinuated he was going to take on activist judges.
One thing is for certain. We appoint Supreme Court Justices for life in order to prevent them from exactly this sort of “public opinion” circus. Lifetime tenure leaves them free to decide cases on merit instead of sentiment.
Still, the fact that conservative opinion leaders feel the need to launch what certainly appears to be a coordinated effort to buck up conservatives on the bench implies just how powerful the court of public opinion (at least, media opinion) can be — and that even justices with lifetime appointments aren’t immune to ridicule and pressure from the media.