Healthcare Decision a Seminal Moment for Chief Justice Roberts

Tuesday, 26 Jun 2012 12:59 PM

By Newsmax Wires

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Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts will play a central role in how the healthcare reform decision comes out Thursday. And the decision will play a major role in how Roberts goes down in history, Politico reports.

The swing vote in the case is Justice Anthony Kennedy. But Roberts, as long as he’s in the majority, will decide who writes the opinion. He may well do it himself and in any case will have crucial influence on how the decision transpires.

“The health care case will undoubtedly define his chief justiceship,” Jeffrey Rosen, a law professor at George Washington University and legal affairs editor for The New Republic, told Politico. “The scope of the law, the amount of people affected, the fact that it’s the centerpiece of the president’s domestic agenda, all make it as politically charged as imaginable.”

Roberts didn’t write any opinions in the cases the court heard in March or April, raising the odds that he’ll author this one. Speculation runs both ways about how Roberts will vote on Obamacare’s mandate for individuals to buy health insurance.

After comments from the judges during oral arguments, many experts predicted they would strike the mandate, with Roberts part of the majority. But after the court’s decision Monday to overturn some of Arizona’s strict immigration laws with support from Roberts, some experts aren’t so sure about the Obamacare outcome and Roberts’ vote.

To be sure, others see no connection between the decisions on immigration and Obamacare. “They’re very different cases,” Tom Goldstein, who regularly argues Supreme Court cases and founded Scotusblog, told Politico. “There are overlapping themes about states’ rights, but the federal immigration power is not the same as federal commerce power.”


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