“Pop the champagne corks, conservatives,” Powerline’s John Hinderaker reacted upon George W. Bush’s selection of John Roberts to succeed a retiring Sandra Day O’Connor. “Roberts is a fantastic choice, a brilliant and bulletproof conservative.” Paul Mirengoff, Hinderaker’s Powerline colleague, gushed: “I’m over the moon.” “BRAVO…an inspired choice,” opined Orin Kerr of the Volokh Conspiracy. Hugh Hewitt called Roberts a “home run for the president, the SCOTUS, and for the United States.”
But will you still love me tomorrow?
Chief Justice John Roberts became the first Republican to vote for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act yesterday. Ultimately, the George W. Bush-appointee’s imprimatur was the only Republican vote the administration needed. Democrats pushed the law. Only a Republican on a court in which GOP appointees constitute a majority could affirm its constitutionality. The vote of the chief justice tipped the balance 5-4 in favor of the president’s health reform.
The pattern of Republican-appointed jurists upholding constitutionally-questionable laws pushed by liberals is by now a familiar one.
Dwight Eisenhower made California Governor Earl Warren the chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. He wrote the 5-4 opinion invalidating the conviction of Ernesto Miranda, who confessed to kidnapping and raping a teenage girl, because the police hadn’t informed him of his legal rights. The demand that police serve as legal advisors to those they apprehend directly resulted in the release of numerous dangerous people, including a man who had stabbed his wife and five children to death. Miranda v. Arizona proved one in a line of cases in which the Warren Court weakened the criminal justice system.
Ike famously dubbed Warren “the biggest damn fool mistake I ever made.” Other Republicans would repeat rather than learn from the 34th president’s “damn fool mistake.”
Richard Nixon appointed Justice Harry Blackmun, who wrote the majority opinion in the Roe v. Wade case invalidating the abortion laws of every state. Gerald Ford nominated John Paul Stevens, who wrote the majority opinion in Kelo v. New London, which empowers governments to take private property for the benefit of private interests that supposedly better serve the public good. George H.W. Bush-appointee David Souter and Ronald Reagan-appointees Sandra Day O’Connor and Anthony Kennedy wrote the plurality decision upholding Roe v. Wade in Planned Parenthood v. Casey.