Fordham Law

Supreme court: the conservative John Roberts, saviour of the Obama Act

Clare Huntington and Abner S. Greene in France-Amerique, June 28, 2012

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Read the full story (in French).

English translation follows:

Supreme irony, the conservative president of the highest court of the United States, John Roberts, became Thursday the saviour of the reform of insurance repudiated the Republicans, savers at the time at his court the charge of bias.
Look wise and blue look, John Roberts, 57 years, deemed prudent approach, has played a role "capital by providing critical voice and in drafting the decision that saved a crucial realization of the administration" Obama, told the AFP Tom Goldstein, expert of long standing of the supreme court. Considered by many as the most brilliant lawyer of his generation, John Roberts, whose loyalty to the Republican party has never been in doubt, joined the suffrage to those of the four progressive justices on the nine that had the Court, dissociating of Conservative peers and making the lighthouse of the Democratic president reform majority.
"Chief Justice", as it is called in the corridors, chose "the camp of the four judges the most moderate and confirmed the key aspects" of the reform, commented to the AFP Doug Kendall, president of the centre of reflection Constitutional Accountability Center. Appointed head of the High Court by Republican president George w. Bush, John Roberts took office in September 2005, after having been celebrated by the religious right.
Since then, Mr. Roberts, who had been "without political program", retained positions cautious on the big issues of society, that the supreme court helped shape. He outpaced positions hostile to the right to abortion, without however engaging clearly for or against its retention. He had however validated the military tribunals of exception of Bush in Guantanamo, vote for the legalization of the prayer in school and the criminalization of the Act of burning the American flag.
"He has the reputation" of the Court
With the reform of sickness insurance, which aims to ensure 32 million Americans, it is "the integrity of the Court as an impartial and non-institution" as political body that he seems to want to defend, said to AFP counsel Elizabeth Wydra, who argued the Government Obama in this case. If observers were waiting in the role of toggle moderate Justice Anthony Kennedy, who sometimes vote right, sometimes to the left, the "Chief Justice promised fidelity to the Constitution", reminds Me Wydra, that Mr. Roberts was "foreseeable".
It does however not awaited him in this "moderator centre" but "as a voice curator, robust and consistent", analysed his appointment Stephen Wermiel, specialist of the supreme court at the American University in Washington. Regarded at the time as one of the more conservative judges in the country, Mr. Roberts, a graduate of the prestigious Harvard University, also held legal positions in the Republican Government of Ronald Reagan and worked for Bush's father.
In a context where three-quarters of Americans believe that the elders of the High Court decisions are guided by their political views or personal, it "shows that he wishes deeply to the reputation of the Court", told the AFP Clare Huntington, Professor at Fordham Law School, who sees in his Thursday decision a courageous position. "John Roberts tries to avoid the overwhelming criticism of the history", said one of her colleagues, Abner Greene.
"By joining progressive colleagues, he returns the question in the arena of political democracy", noted political scientist at Boston University, Graham Wilson. Married for 16 years to a lawyer known in conservative circles, Jane Roberts is father of two adopted children.