Antonin Scalia, why do you hate America?
It is regrettable that five members of the Supreme Court upheld state and federal DNA databases based on a premise that Scalia reveals to be a fiction: that the purpose of DNA testing is to identify suspects rather than to solve cold cases. Scalia notes that the Court’s broad holding—that DNA can be seized from arrestees—was “quite unnecessary,” since everyone concedes that King’s DNA could have been seized as a result of his conviction for second-degree assault. The 22 remaining states that don’t collect DNA from arrestees are likely to do so now, and the threats to privacy will only grow. But it is inspiring to see Justice Scalia’s wit, passion, and devotion to constitutional principle being deployed so effectively on behalf of American liberty.
How the 2000 election changed the gun control debate.
In the days after the Aurora horror I was considering floating a theory about the past decade’s decline in support for gun control even in the face of a string of mass shootings. I never got around to it, and put it on the back burner. Well, here we are just a couple weeks later and I once again have what we in the news business call a “peg” for my argument—another half dozen shot dead by a well-armed nutcase. So, here’s my idea: that the Supreme Court seriously undermined the prospects for gun control efforts long before its 2008 ruling in D.C. v. Heller, which affirmed the Second Amendment right to bear arms in very strong terms. When was that? Well, in another little case from 2000, Bush v. Gore.
It’s easy to forget now, but there was a time, not so long ago, when it was not anathema for politicians—well, Democratic ones, at least—to propose major restrictions on gun ownership. In the 2000 Democratic primaries, Bill Bradley ran on a platform of registering all handguns, and repeatedly challenged his opponent, Al Gore, for being too soft on the issue.
Alec MacGillis — “Did Bush v. Gore Eviscerate Gun Control?”
Is the Supreme Court’s ruling on Obamacare that good for liberalism after all?
"SOME VICTORIES prepare the ground for more victories; others lay the basis for future defeats. The great question for liberals about the Supreme Court’s decision on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is which kind of victory it is.
John Roberts’s decision to spare the ACA at least allows the president this fall to claim health reform as a major achievement. But the chief justice’s new limits on the scope of the Commerce clause and federal spending powers may put future reforms at risk of being struck down and require liberals to rethink their approach to national policy. Roberts’s opinion upholds conservative positions in nearly every respect except its conclusion, and it is especially worrisome in light of the readiness of the four right-wing dissenting justices to use the same arguments to overturn the ACA in its entirety. As long as the Court has a conservative majority, the threat of a judicial veto will now hang over a wide range of liberal initiatives, including many long believed to be moderate, incremental, and constitutionally secure.”
Paul Starr — "Between the Lines"
What lies behind Chief Justice Roberts’ decision to uphold the Obamacare mandate?
AT THE END OF ROBERTS’S first term as chief justice in July 2006, I interviewed him in his chambers at the Supreme Court. Our conversation, which I wrote about in an article for The Atlantic, was wide-ranging, but Roberts returned repeatedly to one theme: his desire to restore the bipartisan legitimacy of the Supreme Court.
In Roberts’s view, the Court was losing respect with the public because it issued too many rulings along partisan lines. “I do think the rule of law is threatened by a steady term-after-term focus on five–four decisions,” he said. “I think the Court is also ripe for a similar refocus on functioning as an institution,” he told me, “because if it doesn’t, it’s going to lose its credibility.”
Roberts said he had been inspired by the example of his greatest predecessor, John Marshall. “He could easily have got on the Court and said, ‘I’m the last hope of the Federalists: We’re out of Congress, we’re out of the White House, and I’m going to pursue that agenda here,’” he said. “But instead he said, ‘No, this is my home now, this is the Court, and we’re going to operate as a Court, and that’s important to me.’”
— Jeffrey Rosen, “Big Chief”
Timothy Noah on the GOP’s misdirected Obamacare anger
“Republicans would rather kick up a fuss about a pipsqueak tax on health-insurance-shirkers, most of them probably lower-income, which means they’re an unlikely bet to vote Republican. Maybe it’s because they don’t really think of payroll taxes as taxes. (Grover Norquist has said he has no problem with raising them.) Maybe it’s because they got burned fighting with Obama over his payroll (i.e., OASDI) tax cut late last year, which possibly left them never wanting to speak the words “payroll tax” ever again, even if it’s to point out that Obama is now raising them (albeit only on people in the top 5 percent of incomes nationwide; but it wouldn’t be unprecedented for Republicans to leave that part out). For whatever reason, the GOP is spending remarkably little effort on fighting Obamacare’s most significant tax hike. As a liberal, I find this pleasing. As a journalist, I find it puzzling.”
–– Timothy Noah, “The Real Obamacare Tax Increase”
"Chief Justice John Roberts initially sided with the Supreme Court’s four conservative justices to strike down the heart of President Obama’s health care reform law, the Affordable Care Act, but later changed his position and formed an alliance with liberals to uphold the bulk of the law, according to two sources with specific knowledge of the deliberations.
Roberts then withstood a month-long, desperate campaign to bring him back to his original position, the sources said. Ironically, Justice Anthony Kennedy - believed by many conservatives to be the justice most likely to defect and vote for the law - led the effort to try to bring Roberts back to the fold.”
— Jonathan Cohn, “Did Roberts Change His Vote?”
What does it mean to be a successful Chief Justice?
"As Roberts recognized, faith in the neutrality of the law and the impartiality of judges is a fragile thing. When I teach constitutional law, I begin by telling students that they can’t assume that it’s all politics. To do so misses everything that is constraining and meaningful and inspiring about the Constitution as a framework for government. There will be many polarizing decisions from the Roberts Court in the future, and John Roberts will be on the conservative side of many of them. But with his canny performance in the health care case, Roberts has given the country a memorable example of what it means to be a successful Chief Justice."
Why the Obamacare decision was terrible for Romney
Judging this the better outcome for Romney means seriously understating just how brutal the law’s rejection would have been for Obama. It would have allowed Romney to argue—to crow to the skies, surely—that Obama’s entire first term had been a giant zero: not only had he been unable to bring the economy back to full strength, but the issue he chose to focus on for the first two years of his term, when the economy was at its worst, had been proven a fool’s errand.
-Alec MacGillis, “No, This Was Not The Better Outcome For Mitt”