Politico's Claws Out For Chief Justice Roberts

Politico's Claws Out For Chief Justice Roberts

Glenn Thrush, alleged reporter for Politico, has decided that any legal opposition to Obamacare must spring not from Constitutional concerns – concerns mirrored by Justices Kennedy, Roberts, Alito, Scalia, Thomas, and even Sotomayor in part – but from sheer politics. His piece on the Obamacare hearings is pure farce. “John Roberts On Trial,” it screams, even though Roberts is certainly not on trial:

John Roberts is having his Bush v. Gore moment. If the wily chief justice felt squeamish about leading the Supreme Court into an election-year political maelstrom, that was nowhere on display Tuesday, when the Roberts-led conservative majority signaled its collective skepticism, even hostility, for President Barack Obama’s health care law.

This isn’t about the “conservative majority” of course – it’s about the Constitution. If Thrush had paid any attention to the actual arguments, he would have spotted that the conservative judges on the Court cite the Constitution far more frequently than their liberal counterparts, who routinely descend into basic political analysis of the bill.

But Thrush isn’t interested in the truth. He’s interested in doing a hatchet job. So that’s what he does:

If the Affordable Care Act goes down — especially if it suffers the same schismatic 5-to-4 blow sustained by the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law in the Citizens United case — critics will accuse the Roberts Court of rigging the game and covering their power play with constitutional doublespeak.

And who might those “critics” be, Glenn? They couldn’t possibly be you, implying that the Roberts Court is rigging the game and covering its power play with constitutional doublespeak, could it?

Thrush’s entire case is that Roberts is a political judge rather than a judge who cares about the Constitution. But that’s not journalism. It’s opinion journalism. Thrush dug up every anti-Roberts voice he could find in order to mask his own bias – but he didn’t write a similar article on, say, Justices Ginsburg’s, Breyer’s, and Kagan’s obvious attempt yesterday to save the Solicitor General from himself by making his case for him. Instead, he blamed Roberts for not agreeing to compromise to avoid a 5-4 decision – even though the decision hasn’t yet come down.

There is no unanimous decision to be had here. There is no compromise – or, if there is, it will be on the issue of severability. This is a simple up-or-down vote on the individual mandate, which cannot be partially constitutional.

And, of course, Thrush keeps coming back to Bush v. Gore, which is supposedly the hallmark of highly-politicized cases – even though the actual decision is highly complex. He cites Democrat after Democrat to say that Roberts is a new Republican hack – even though Elena Kagan was a member of the Obama Administration, and made a fool of herself in yesterday’s hearings by openly shilling for Obamacare.

This was not a story. This was a hit piece. But that seems to be Politico’s specialty these days.