As Daniel and Pat mention below, CBS’ Jan Crawford is reporting that John Roberts switched his vote in the Obamacare case, much as Anthony Kennedy did in the 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey abortion case. Crawford has come out with a more detailed report, whose key points include:
Anthony Kennedy took the lead, and was “relentless,” in trying to get Roberts to re-join the conservative bloc.
The conservatives found Roberts’s reasoning so flawed that they refused to join, or even acknowledge, his opinion, even in the areas where they agreed (such as the limits to the Commerce Clause).
Roberts’ change of heart was driven by left-wing media anger around the possibility that the law would be overturned. Roberts reads the papers, and is very concerned about the Court’s image.
Roberts tried to lobby Kennedy to join him and leave the other conservatives, but Kennedy refused.
The conservative dissent was not originally written as a majority opinion, as some have speculated, but reads strangely because the conservatives refused to acknowledge Roberts’s opinion.
Perhaps, the next time a Republican president nominates a Supreme Court justice, he should make the candidate swear to never pick up a newspaper.
The bottom line, if Jan Crawford is right, is that conservative justices can be blackmailed by left-wing editorialists. It’s not a pretty picture.
— Avik Roy is author of The Apothecary, the Forbes blog on health-care and entitlement reform. He is a member of Mitt Romney’s Health Care Policy Advisory Group. You can follow him on Twitter at @aviksaroy.