CBS News: Roberts Was Going to Overturn ObamaCare But Changed His Mind

CBS News broke a huge story on Sunday's Face the Nation concerning the Supreme Court's Thursday ruling on ObamaCare.

According to Jan Crawford, CBS legal and political correspondent, Chief Justice John Roberts was initially going to strike down the individual mandate requiring citizens to buy health insurance, but changed his mind over the objections of the conservatives on the Court (video follows with transcript):


NORAH O’DONNELL, SUBSTITUTE HOST: We're going to start first with Jan because you've done some reporting. The big question was why did Chief Justice John Roberts do what he did? And you've learned some new details right?

JAN CRAWFORD, CBS LEGAL AND POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right. What was striking about this decision was that it was the conservative Chief Justice that was providing that decisive fifth vote, joining the liberals to uphold the President’s signature achievement. And Norah that was something that no one would have expected back in 2005 when President George W. Bush put him on the Supreme Court, and that was something that not even the conservative justices expected back in March when the Court heard arguments in this case.

I am told by two sources with specific knowledge of the Court's deliberations that Roberts initially sided with the conservatives in this case and was prepared to strike down the heart of this law, the so-called individual mandate, of course, that requires all Americans to buy insurance or pay a penalty. But Roberts, I'm told by my sources, changed his views deciding to instead join with the liberals.

And he withstood-- I'm told by my sources -- a month-long desperate campaign by the conservative justices to bring him back to the fold, and that campaign was led, ironically, by Justice Anthony Kennedy. And why that's ironic is because it was Justice Kennedy that conservatives feared would be the one most likely to defect. But their effort, of course, was unsuccessful. Roberts did not budge. The conservatives wrote that astonishing joint dissent united in opposition, and Roberts wrote the majority opinion with the four liberals to uphold the President's signature achievement.

O’DONNELL: Has this there been anything like this on the Court before? I mean, that's extraordinary that the Chief Justice, according to your report about a month ago decided to do this and then was lobbied unsuccessfully.

CRAWFORD: Yes, that has happened before, and often in high-profile, controversial cases including Justice Kennedy who's changed his views in a very high-profile case involving a woman's rights on abortion back in 1992. And justices do change their mind. There is precedent for that. One justice told me that surprisingly enough it happens about once a term. But in the case of this magnitude with so much on the line, conservatives believed they had Roberts’ vote in this case, and there's quite a lot of anger within the hallways of the Supreme Court right now.

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.