Justice Roberts Explains Justice Roberts: Politics, the Supreme Court, and Constitutional Change

For students of constitutional history, one of the eerie aspects of Chief Justice John Roberts' vote to uphold the ObamaCare individual mandate was its resonance with the vote of an earlier Justice Roberts.  Chief Justice Roberts has not explained, and may never explain, his vote, but comments by that earlier Justice, Owen Roberts, may give some insight into the Chief Justice's thinking, as well as serve as a powerful warning about the relation between political considerations and the proper role of the Supreme Court. In 1936, Justice Owen Roberts, a generally conservative justice appointed by Herbert Hoover, voted to uphold a state minimum wage law, reversing a decision of the previous year, where he had voted to overturn such laws.  He then went on to support many other 5-to-4 decisions upholding various New Deal laws.  Coming as it did on the heels of Franklin Roosevelt's "court-packing" scheme, Owen Roberts' initial vote has ever since been known as the "switch in...(Read Full Article)

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