Why Did Chief Justice Roberts Side With Liberals in Obamacare Ruling?

Chief Justice Roberts
Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court John Roberts is pictured on the front plaza of the Supreme Court in Washington in this October 1, 2010 file photograph. In the end, it all came down to Chief Justice John Roberts, the sphinx in the center chair, who in a stunning decision wove together competing rationales to uphold President Barack Obama's healthcare plan. Roberts' action instantly upended the conventional wisdom that he would vote with his four fellow conservative justices on the U.S. Supreme Court and undercut the agenda of a Democratic president, who as a senator in 2005 had opposed Roberts' appointment to the bench. (Reuters/Larry Downing)
In a shocking move, U.S. Supreme Chief Justice John Roberts joined Clinton and Obama appointees in upholding Obamacare's individual mandate to purchase health insurance.

Writing for the majority, Roberts held that the penalty for not complying with the mandate would survive under Congress' taxing power.

The decision is cause for grave concern for those in the pro-life movement who have, for decades, been advocating for a strategy of electing conservative presidents and relying on their Supreme Court appointees to hold to a textual constitutional interpretation, overturn Roe v. Wade, and return the authority to protect the preborn to the states.

"Enough is enough. Placing all of our hopes in judicial appointees has proven to be a disaster. It is time to have an honest conversation about where we go from here," said Gualberto Garcia Jones, J.D., legal analyst for Personhood USA.

“The movement must unite behind personhood because [Thursday’s] decision demonstrates clearly that judges cannot be trusted to protect our rights. Ending abortion will require us to demand equality for every human being and assert the power of the people to initiate life-affirming social progress."

President George H.W. Bush appointed Roberts in 2005 following the death of Chief Justice William Rehnquist. Thursday's Obamacare ruling is the second major decision this week in which the Chief Justice has sided with the liberal wing of the High Court. On Monday, the Court ruled to strike a majority of provisions in the controversial Arizona immigration law.

Roberts' first opportunity to rule on an abortion case came in 2007's Gonzalez vs. Carhart. The Chief Justice joined the majority in upholding the federal partial birth abortion ban under the 1992 Planned Parenthood vs. Casey pro-abortion precedent, but did not concur with Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas that Casey and Roe should be overturned.

President Ronald Reagan, who many consider to be the first pro-life president in history, appointed Justices Sandra Day O'Connor and Justice Anthony Kennedy—two members of the "centrist coalition" in Casey. The third member contributing to current abortion jurisprudence by joining in that opinion was Justice David Souter, a Bush appointee. In fact, eight of the nine sitting justices on the case were Republican appointees.


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