Judge Posner Speaks Out on Behalf of Justice Roberts

A number of conservative critics have been lambasting U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts since he cast the deciding vote in the high court’s recent 5-4 decision upholding the Obama administration’s national health care law. Roberts’ detractors have blamed his decision on a variety of unproven allegations, including one radio host who questioned whether the Chief Justice’s ruling was influenced by epilepsy medication.

One conservative who isn’t buying those arguments is Judge Richard Posner of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit in Chicago. Posner, who was appointed to the federal bench by former President Ronald Reagan, recently told National Public Radio that he’s become less of a conservative after witnessing the response to Roberts’ vote in the Obamacare case, which included unidentified sources telling the media that Roberts changed his vote in the months before the final ruling was published.

“What would you do if you were Roberts? All the sudden you find out that the people you thought were your friends have turned against you, they despise you, they mistreat you, they leak to the press. What do you do? Do you become more conservative? Or do you say, 'What am I doing with this crowd of lunatics?'," says Posner in the interview.

Politics aside, Judge Posner raises an even more important point: the judicial system performed exactly as it was supposed to in the high court’s health care ruling. While Roberts is a judicial conservative, he decided the case based on his interpretation of existing law and the Constitution, which is what he pledged to do under oath before joining the Court. That’s called being a judge.

The noise emanating from the media and cypher-chasing conservatives is something else entirely. It’s called politics.

Posted: 7/30/2012 2:07:47 PM by Editor | with 0 comments

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Thanks for stopping by On the Merits, the first blog from the Texas Center for Legal Ethics. On the Merits will take a close look at significant legal stories with an eye toward addressing the legal myths and misconceptions that turn up in news stories, movies, TV programs, websites, anonymous emails and other forms of mass communications. Our goal at On the Merits is to provide readers with a thoughtful examination of what the media and others are saying about the legal profession and to apply the frequently-absent context of how the legal system actually works.

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