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Ear to the Ground

Roberts Switched Obamacare Vote, According to Leak

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Posted on Jul 2, 2012
Photo by massmatt

The United States Supreme Court.

Multiple unnamed sources confirmed that Chief Justice John Roberts initially sided with the conservative bloc of the court before switching his vote on health care reform, says CBS News’ Jan Crawford. Justice Anthony Kennedy—widely considered the moderate of the group—led the effort to bring Roberts back from the left-wing fold.

It is possible that the behind-the-scenes wrangling taking place among the justices had leaked to right-wing pundits more than a month before the landmark health care ruling came down, according to Linda Greenhouse of The New York Times. Greenhouse speculated that as early as late May, Washington Post columnist George Will had “picked up signals that the chief justice, thought reliable after the oral argument two months earlier, was now wavering.”

—Posted by Tracy Bloom

Think Progress:

To be clear, at this point only two facts are confirmed: 1) According to Crawford, Roberts flipped his vote midstream; and 2) someone within the Court must have leaked her this information. It is perfectly appropriate for Justice Kennedy, or any other justice, for that matter, to internally lobby Roberts to try to obtain his vote in an important case. If a member of the Court has turned to conservative columnists like Will or reporters like Crawford in order to pressure and then embarrass Roberts, however, that would be a significant and unusual escalation from the justices’ regular tactics.

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