George W. Bush may well go down as one of the most decent human beings ever to serve as President, so it is not surprising that he hasn’t said anything negative about Chief Justice John Roberts.
But, after Roberts twisted himself into a legal pretzel first to uphold Obamacare and most recently to try and deny the Trump administration its absolute right to ask a question about citizenship on the 2020 census, you have to wonder what W might be quietly thinking.
Dwight Eisenhower had this to say about his appointment of former Chief Justice Earl Warren, “The biggest damn fool mistake I ever made.”
Harry Truman appointed Tom C. Clark to the Court. “It isn’t so much that he’s a bad man, it’s just that he’s such a dumb son of a bitch.”
Roberts needs to stop worrying about his legacy and just pay attention to the damn law.
From a purely practical standpoint, you do not need a JD from Harvard to know that any administration can add a question about citizenship to the decennial census without the Court’s blessing. The constitution mandates the count, it is used to apportion congressional districts and only citizens can vote.
Even though the left has its collective panties in a twist over the current President and his attitude towards illegal aliens the constitution has not changed.
To suggest that the Secretary of Commerce’s “rationale” for adding a question which has appeared on every census until 1950 is just silly. A more pertinent issue for the Court is why the question has NOT included since then.
On what planet is a government not allowed to count residents by citizenship?
The problem Roberts has is that he seems to think his role as Chief Justice comes with a commission to be loved by both sides of any issue.
That is clearly at odds with what he told the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2005 at his confirmation hearing.
"Judges and justices are servants of the law, not the other way around. Judges are like umpires. Umpires don’t make the rules; they apply them. The role of an umpire and a judge is critical. They make sure everybody plays by the rules. But it is a limited role. Nobody ever went to a ball game to see the umpire."
Apparently Roberts has evolved in his role as an umpire.
His vote on the census question wasn’t a ball or a strike. If anything, it was a foul ball with two strikes. That is, nothing. Another pitch. But baseball doesn’t have a clock to run out and Roberts knew damn well that the census has a clock.
Roberts’ call was more like the referee in that game seven of the 2019 Vegas Golden Knights vs. the San Jose Sharks series which changed the direction of that game and caused the National Hockey League Board of Governors to actually change the rule in the off season.
And it may well be that George W. Bush’s “biggest damn fool mistake” will turn out to be John Roberts.
Fortunately, this President appears up to the challenge and he is looking for a way around the ridicules ruling the court made.
Which might mean Roberts will get this issue jammed up where his moon doesn’t shine very shortly.
Watching him twist and turn will be like watching a Christian Scientist with appendicitis.
On Thursday, The Supreme Court blocked a Louisiana law designed to restrict access to abortions. In a 5-4 decision the surprising swing vote came from Chief Justice John R. Roberts Jr., who is generally considered a conservative justice. Instead of siding with fellow conservatives Justice Thomas, Alito & Gorsuch; Chief Justice Roberts sided with liberal appointees Ginsberg, Sotomayor, Kagen and Breyer.
So, just what is the Louisiana law that was struck down?
Well, it’s called, “Louisiana’s Unsafe Abortion Protection Act.” The premise of the law argues that doctors should have “admitting privileges” at a hospital within 30 miles of where an abortion is performed, and, if they do not have said privileges they are not allowed to perform an abortion there. If passed, the law would reduce the number of doctors allowed to perform abortions and therefor, possible enforce an “undue” restriction on a woman seeking an abortion.
An “admitting privilege,” means that the doctor has the privilege to admit patients to the hospital for some diagnostic or therapeutic services. “Admitting privilege,” as implied in the Louisiana law, and here is the important part - has nothing whatsoever to do medical competence.
So the law ties to say that a patient might be “unsafe” if they receive an abortion from a doctor that does not have admitting privileges. Hence, the title of the act.
The obvious problem, as has been pointed out many times, and has been the reason this act has been previously struck down in courts is: there are many legitimate reasons why a doctor might not have admitting privileges to a hospital that have nothing to do with medical expertise. Which, obviously means that just because a doctor doesn’t have admitting privileges does not mean he/she is unqualified to perform an abortion. Which means the law is trying to enforce an undue restriction.
In fact there was a Texas law that was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2016 in their Whole Woman's Health vs. Hellerstedt decision. The Texas law was very similar to Louisiana’s “Unsafe Abortion Act. In a 5-3 decision (they were one Justice down at the time, as Scalia had just died) court said the Texas law constituted an “undue burden” on a women’s right to seek an abortion, and struck it down. Which is exactly what they did to the Louisiana act.
Now, it’s interesting to note that Justice Roberts did not vote against the Texas law in 2016. He did vote against the similar Louisiana law on Thursday. As to why? Well, we don’t know why, exactly. That being said, I did find an interesting breakdown over at Rolling Stone (.com) in a 2018 interview with veteran Newsweek reporter David Kaplan. Kaplan had just published a book called The Most Dangerous Branch, which was drawn from interviews “with 165 people including sitting justices, retired justices, clerks, lower court judges and federal officials.”
Tessa Stuart, from Rolling Stone, asks Kaplan if a new court (w/ Kavanaugh, who had not yet been confirmed) would overturn Roe. v. Wade? Kaplan said about Roberts: “I think Roberts is troubled by seeing the court get put in the maelstrom. And I think he recognizes that Roe v. Wade would put the court in the maelstrom like no other ruling in modern times … My guess would be that Roberts would not vote to explicitly overturn Roe…” (Which then would turn into a 6-3 vote against striking it down, in his opinion).
Fair enough. Maybe this is Robert’s first chance (the Thursday Louisiana vote) to suggest precisely what Kaplan was talking about. I guess, Kaplan is saying that Roberts just doesn’t want to rock the boat, per say. Although Kaplan did, at the time of the interview, seem to feel the Kavanagh would also vote against striking down Roe v. Wade.
Maybe. But maybe not. Kavanagh wrote the dissent against Thursday’s decision and it’s kind of dull but it’s only four pages if you want to check it out (linked above).
I read it. To the extent I understand it, it’s kind of a mess. Kavanagh goes back and forth and says, “Yeah, well, I guess I would be for this. But then again, I can see in some instances this would be undue (therefor illegal). You know I would need more facts about the new law, specifically, in order to make a more informed vote. But since I don’t have those facts - I’ll just vote yes. Yes, the Louisiana Unsafe Abortion Act is fine!”
Um. Okay. But one would assume that, without more facts about something that is going into law - you should vote, no.
Anyway. This will not be last time we see abortion rights front and center at the Supreme Court.