Working the Ref: Law Prof Randy Barnett Details How Media's Lobbying John Roberts

March 2nd, 2015 6:16 PM

Georgetown Law professor Randy Barnett has an excellent piece today at the Volokh Conspiracy blog detailing the lengths to which the liberal media is going to not-too-subtly lobby Chief Justice John Roberts on the upcoming ObamaCare subsidy case King v. Burwell.

Here's an excerpt (emphasis mine):

Now that we have reason to believe that the Chief Justice Roberts did change his vote after the progressive onslaught, the left has been encouraged to think that its pressure worked, and might work again in King v. Burwell. But this time, they aren’t waiting until after oral argument to launch their political lobbying campaign. Instead, in advance of oral argument, they are making a preemptive appeal to the Chief Justice with varying degrees of subtlety.... First the flattery.... Then the threat in the form of “some have said”

Barnett started off with an excerpt from a writer for the liberal Constitution Accountability Center but then shifted to widely read publications inside the Beltway such as the Washington Post, The Hill newspaper, before concluding with excerpts from the lefty blog ThinkProgress. Here's a portion of his treatment on the Post's coverage:

The Washington Post’s Robert Barnes reports on this potential reaction in Obamacare threatens to end John Roberts’s dream of a nonpartisan Supreme Court (emphasis added by Barnett):

[S]lowly and quietly, Roberts is the one trying to build its legacy. He sees it as somehow exempt from the partisan fugue that long ago enveloped Washington. Justice Stephen G. Breyer has worried that the public might see him and his colleagues as “nine junior-varsity politicians”; public approval of the Supreme Court is falling. But while all of the justices bristle at the notion of a political court, the eponymous head of the Roberts court has the most to lose. . . . It is a perception [of partisanship] that, despite Roberts’s zealous labors, the court could soon reinforce, at least on the left. “A 5-to-4 decision invalidating the premium tax credits” in King v. Burwell “would seriously call into question the legitimacy of the court,” Tim Jost, a Washington and Lee University law professor and health-care expert, said in a video distributed by the liberal Center for American Progress. “I think it’s going to be [decided] pretty transparently for political reasons.”

Yes, the “dream of a nonpartisan Supreme Court” will be dashed if this is a 5-4 decision to invalidate an IRS ruling on the ground that it deviated from the text of the Affordable Care Act. So he better decide this “right” or the decision will be viewed as partisan — wholly apart from the merits or because, as Ms. Gorod tells us, “it’s difficult to imagine a legal mind like Roberts’ agreeing with an argument as weak as the one the plaintiffs have offered.” This illustration that accompanies the story shows the beleaguered Chief Justice:

Here's the aforementioned illustration:

You can read Barnett's full piece here.