Did Roberts Write Both Health Care Opinions?


It has been widely reported that Chief Justice John Roberts switched his vote to uphold the Affordable Care Act. Now a new report says that Roberts didn’t just switch his vote, but he actually wrote both his own opinion upholding the law and most of the dissenting opinion opposing it.

Salon‘s Paul Campos reports that he has been told by an anonymous source that Roberts wrote “most of the material in the first three quarters of the joint dissent,” and that only the last portion of the dissent was written by the conservative bloc of Justices, Samuel Alito, Anthony Kennedy, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.

Campos’ source contradicts a report by CBS News’ Joan Crawford, which said that the four conservatives on the court had written the unusual dissent in NFIB v. Sebelius because “conservatives no longer wished to engage in debate with him.”

Instead, Campos’ source says that this is “pure propagandistic spin,” meant to deflect from the oddity of the dissent, which reads more like a majority opinion than a dissenting one.

While it’s impossible to know whether Campos’ source or Crawford’s sources are more trustworthy, the report does confirm that Roberts switched his vote, saving the Affordable Care Act rather than voting to embrace the “Constitution in exile” doctrine. It’s also a mystery why the conservatives on the court would keep Roberts’ opinion even after the Chief Justice switched his vote. Perhaps they felt that they could win Roberts back using his own words. If that was their gamble, it failed.


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Image Credit: Donkey Hotey


Thomas M.

If Justice Roberts was initially writing a dissent having sided with the conservative justices, he would have been in the majority as Kennedy voted with the conservatives. It would have been 5-4 holding the law unconstitutional. A dissent in that case would have been to uphold the law.

Carol H.
Past Member 5 years ago

I don't care who did what but I will lose my home if this happens that is all I can say!!!

marc rosati
marc rosati5 years ago

If Roberts really did write both opinions then perhaps he meant to throw the law out. However, knowing how the Obama administration operates, they somehow got to him and twisted his arm and made him vote the other way which would explain why he went along with it in such an underhanded way making Obama out a liar.

Dominic C.
Dominic C5 years ago

First of all, BOSSES never do the work. They leave the analysis and the writings to the subordinates. However, they give directions on their expectations and how things are to be finalized.
I think SCOTUS have many law clerks and law interns and majority of them have already done their research and findings. You do not expect to write or come out with hundreds of pages in a couple of months and have to conduct the findings. All these findings are on-going by interested parties but of course and I think there were discussions and materials already at hand. When the materials and knowledge are there its only putting everything on paper on the directions as required by the director.

Alan Lambert
Alan Lambert5 years ago

I heard somebody leaked the Chief Justice an ad that had the 5 Conservative Justices dressed in red robes with a VO of the litany of cases decided along partisan lines beginning with Bush v Gore. That and his personal desire not to be Roger Taney Jr. likely swayed his opinion

Luvenia V.
Luvenia V5 years ago

Sarah H., LOOK you are right, this is not a GOOD law but it is better than what we had before. This judge just made it easier to take people OFF Medicaid and the Republican Governors are most likley drooling over it. The Republicans have NO answers to the health care problem except if they can't afford it let them DIE. Facts are Facts Sarah, try some.

The President should have a least fought for a Single Pay and should have NEVER agreed to drop the Public Option. The Democrats have moved so far right they should be called Republicans and the Republicans and the Tea Party have moved so far right they are not even in the land of reality anymore. They are bought and paid for and sold our Republic and turned us into Fascist!!! Don't like those FACTS, to "F"ing bad.

Charles P.
Charles P5 years ago

Is Roberts really an insidious bastard? Is he really a devious a-hole? Did he vote to uphold the law to make it impossible for B.O. to run against the SCOTUS? Hell, with their C.U. and Montana decisions they still have plenty to pin on them.

Chris Cole
Chris C5 years ago

I had said before that I was glad Roberts did what he did but I was still waiting for the other shoe to drop. I KNEW there was another shoe. This has been covered alot in the past few nites by CNN and MSNBC, Rachel Maddow and Ed Schultz shows. Very interesting.

Barbara S.

Whenever I had to make a decision when I worked in corporate business, I always looked at each issue from both sides, and wrote out my argument for both, so when it came time to submit my "final opinion" I could read & re-read each legal point of thinking, and choose the one that rang the truest. I was taught this procedure in journalism class - many decades ago - by one of the finest teachers I ever had. It's not uncommon for people tasked with making the best decision on something truly important, to take this approach. Many marriage counselors ask their clients who are considering divorce to do the same exercise. If all of our Lawmakers had this kind of ethical thought pattern, we'd have lots smarter decisions. I see absolutely nothing wrong with anyone taking both sides of an argument, in order to come out with a cogent decision.

Roseann D.
Roseann d5 years ago

So when it's time for the next Sureme Court appointment, and Please let them be noble, sane, just and not a corrupt greedmongers, eighties better not even say they have a liberal biased ideology. Now at least, they can't even go there. Don't even try it scumbags.