Competitive Enterprise Institute senior counsel Hans Bader said that he never thought Roberts was a “conservative justice,” but a moderate susceptible to “the peer pressure of being in a largely-liberal milieu.”
“Lawyers are a liberal bunch, much more Democratic-leaning than the general public (the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy once noted that Clinton beat Bush by nearly two-to-one among lawyers, despite winning by only several points among the general public),” Bader wrote in an email to TheDC. “And even so-called ‘conservative’ justices are products of the liberal legal community.”
Center for Individual Rights’ general counsel Michael Rosman added that while he had not finished reading the ruling, it appeared to him that Roberts was attempting to please all sides of the issue with his opinion.
“It’s probably a politically astute opinion,” Rosman told TheDC. ”Whether it’s a great constitutional law opinion I guess will be determined over the course of time.”
Rosman said, however, that he still sees Roberts as a conservative.
Likewise, FreedomWorks’ Vice President Dean Clancy told TheDC that he was not ready to make a call on Roberts’ conservatism, but noted that his group is disappointed by the decision.
American Conservative Union Chairman Al Cardenas was hesitant to pass quick judgement, but also disappointed.
“The scorecard needs to get a little richer before drawing definitive conclusions as to whether the Chief Justice Roberts will be remembered as a conservative jurist,” Cardenas told TheDC, “but this opinion is both disconcerting and alarming — not so much because of its conclusions but because to get there required a lot of ‘activism’ by him, which is a trait we had not thought was part of his judicial philosophy when vetted by the Senate.”
RedState Editor Erick Erickson cautioned his readers not to get too down on Roberts, arguing that Roberts was attempting to keep the court out of the “partisan fray” to preserve its legacy and that his decision forces the nation to deal with the issue politically — not legally.
“John Roberts is playing at a different game than the rest of us. We’re on poker. He’s on chess,” Erickson wrote, going on to add that the decision will benefit presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
“With John Roberts’ opinion, the repeal fight takes place on GOP turf, not Democrat turf. The all or nothing repeal has always been better ground for the GOP and now John Roberts has forced everyone onto that ground,” he continued. “It seems very, very clear to me in reviewing John Roberts’ decision that he is playing a much longer game than us and can afford to with a life tenure. And he probably just handed Mitt Romney the White House.”
Back in 2005, conservative commentator and lawyer Ann Coulter cautioned conservatives to not get overly excited about Roberts’ nomination, calling him a “Souter in Roberts Clothing.” Coulter argued that the country did not know enough about Roberts to make an assessment and that getting so-called “stealth nominees” on the court never benefits conservatives.
When asked to comment further in light of the recent Obamacare decision, Coulter responded in an email: “always trust coulter.”
A number of groups declined to comment about Roberts, including the Club for Growth, Americans for Prosperity, American Crossroads, Let Freedom Ring, Heritage Action and the Republican Study Committee, citing prematurity or lack of legal expertise.
Melissa Quinn contributed to this report.