Professor: Roberts betrayed conservative justices at the last moment

By Stephen C. Webster
Friday, June 29, 2012 8:49 EDT
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Salon.com Supreme Court correspondent Paul Campos. Photo: Screenshot via Current.com.
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There’s a bit of a conspiracy theory emerging from Washington legal circles that points to Supreme Court Justice John Roberts as having switched his vote on health care reform so late in the game that the other conservative justices did not even have a chance to edit their opinions to correct numerous mentions of “the dissent” that ended up being the court’s majority.

According to Paul Campos, a law professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder who’s also the Supreme Court reporter at Salon.com, it’s either that or the conservative justices were so angry that Roberts had “stabbed them in the back” that they simply left mentions of “the dissent” in their opinions as “a tell” to conservative activists.

Appearing on Current TV’s “The Young Turks” on Thursday night, Campos elaborated a bit more on this theory, which he’d written about earlier in the day, noting that “15 times in the course of five pages, the four dissenting justices refer to Justice [Ruth Bader] Ginsber’s opinion as ‘the dissent.’”

Host Cenk Uygur interrupted him: “Stop there for a second… They had written the opinion, the conservatives had written it as if they had won,” he said. “They thought Roberts was on their side, they write the opinion, they forget to edit it… and apparently Roberts switches so late that they hand it in with the wrong couple of pages.”

“There’s been quite a lot of talk around Washington legal circles that Chief Justice Roberts was under enormous political pressure not to overturn this law, and it appears that that pressure has worked at the last minute,” Campos replied.

“Now, I think there’s an alternative explanation for why the dissent is worded in the way that it is,” he said. “I think that the four dissenting justices are so angry that they decided not to edit that and to leave that in as essentially a tell, letting everybody know that… Roberts, in their view, stabbed them in the back at the last moment. Otherwise, they would have edited that material out. They would not have described Justice Ginsburg’s opinion as ‘the dissent,’ which they continually did.”

Campos concluded: “I think by doing that, they can claim to not be breaking the confidentiality of the court, but in fact they’re sending a dog whistle signal to the movement conservatives, that ‘we were all on board, we had this all in the bag, and at the last moment Roberts essentially ratted us out.’”

This video was broadcast by Current TV on Thursday, June 28, 2012.


Photo: Screenshot via Current.com.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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