Chief Justice John Roberts joined the left side of the Supreme Court to uphold the vast majority of ObamaCare, including the individual mandate — much to the chagrin of conservatives across the country.
When President George W. Bush nominated Roberts in 2005, the center-right expected him to be a reliably conservative voice on the nation’s highest court.
“[Roberts is] a person who understands what it means to be a strict constructionist — somebody who looks at the words of the Constitution for what they are, somebody who will not legislate from the bench,” Bush said after nominating Roberts in 2005.
With Thursday’s ruling, conservatives are questioning — and some even denying — Roberts’ conservatism on the court.
“[We have] absolutely no confidence in Chief Justice Roberts as a conservative justice,” Young America’s Foundation spokesman Ron Meyer told The Daily Caller.
“Our Constitution is dead,” he added, “and we can thank our chief justice for that.”
Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist explained to TheDC that back in 2005, he thought Roberts’ would apply the law like a “strict-constructionist,” “Reagan Republican,”
Norquist was stunned by the decision.
“I’m not a lawyer. However, there are some very smart lawyers — like, four of them — who saw things differently,” he said, referring to the four justices who voted against the law. “And at some point you have to wonder: Four, you know, center-of-right Reagan-Republican judges all saw it one way, and he saw it the other. He has to be asking himself, ‘Oh look, everybody except Johnny is out of step marching out there.’ Well, maybe Johnny’s out of step.”
Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton added that Roberts’ decision is just another piece of a puzzle, revealing the justice to be more focused on politics than the law.
“His opinions on the Obamacare mandate and the Arizona immigration issue are political, and not conservative,” Fitton told TheDC. “He’s acting more and more like the typical conservative politician and can’t be relied on to do the right thing all the time.”
Peter Ferrara, senior fellow for entitlement and budget policy at the Heartland Institute, explained that Roberts was intimidated to preserve the Roberts court legacy.
“He abandoned the rule of law for political considerations,” Ferrara said. “In my opinion, he was intimidated by how the so-called Roberts court would be caricatured in history.”
Ferrara continued that if he could, he would vote to remove Roberts from the court, as according to Ferrara, he has not been faithful to what he said during his confirmation — and is instead acting with political considerations in mind.
“It’s clear Roberts is not the humble, yet brave, principled constitutionalist we thought him to be,” added Richard Viguerie, chairman of ConservativeHQ.com.
During a Thursday National Federation of Independent Business conference call, Stephen Presser, professor of legal history at Northwestern University, added that his perception of Roberts as a conservative has also “diminished.”
“My faith in Chief Justice Roberts is certainly a little bit diminished after this, and I see him as an actor trying to keep the court out of politics — not that he can — and maybe that’s not a bad thing. But this was a case where I thought there really was a need for a firm statement from the court saying that Congress’ powers — because of the 10th Amendment — are limited, and if it can do this it can do anything and the 10th Amendment becomes something of a dead letter.”
Still, others were not surprised.