Kathleen Parker: “The Public Trial of Justice Roberts”

Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker has a powerful column this morning in the Post.  She begins:

Novelist John Grisham could hardly spin a more provocative fiction: The president and his surrogates mount an aggressive campaign to intimidate the chief justice of the United States, implying ruin and ridicule should he fail to vote in a pivotal case according to the ruling political party’s wishes. If only it were fiction. The justice is, of course, John Roberts and the case involves the Affordable Care Act(ACA), a.k.a. Obamacare, which would be affordable only if the Supreme Court upholds the individual mandate requiring all Americans to buy health insurance. The left’s narrative goes as follows: If the justices side with the Obama administration, they will be viewed as brilliant and nonpartisan. If the reverse occurs, why then, the justices are partisan, judicial activists who have delegitimized the court. . . .

She concludes:

This not-so-stealth campaign to influence the Supreme Court is obnoxious, if not unethical. . . .  Publicly chastising the court — and now taunting Roberts specifically — seems to have two purposes. One is to get under Roberts’s skin in the hopes that he’ll rule the “correct,” if not necessarily “legally correct,” way. Two is to lay the groundwork for declaring the court illegitimate if all or part of Obamacare is overturned. Either way, it’s politics at its filthiest and is beneath the dignity of the court — and of the White House. Unfortunately for Roberts, it’s up to the chief justice to hold the bar high.

[Read the whole thing here.]

The irony here is the sustained campaign by the President, Senator Leahy, and Left commentators like Jeff Rosen has now tainted as political any decision by Chief Justice Roberts to uphold the mandate, even if he did cast (or switch) his vote solely as a matter of legal principle.