Thursday’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act – in which the Court rejected the challenge to the constitutionality of the individual mandate but held that the Act’s Medicaid expansion provisions violated the Constitution – continued to dominate the news this weekend.

Much of the weekend’s coverage focused on the role of Chief Justice John Roberts, who wrote the decision’s controlling opinion.  Yesterday afternoon, Jan Crawford of CBS News reported that the Chief Justice “initially sided with the Supreme Court’s four conservative justices to strike down the heart of President Obama’s health care reform law, the Affordable Care Act, but later changed his position and formed an alliance with liberals to uphold the bulk of the law.”  Crawford’s sources?  Two people “with specific knowledge of the deliberations,” she explained. 

In other news relating to the Chief Justice, the Washington Post has coverage of his  remarks at the D.C. Circuit’s  judicial conference (which he made before Crawford’s story broke), as does the Christian Science Monitor.

A number of commentators – including Jeffrey Rosen at the New Republic, Vikram and Akhil Amar in the Los Angeles Times, Charles Lane of the Washington Post, Kenneth Jost of Jost on Justice, and Robert Reich in the Christian Science Monitor – have praised the Chief Justice for his role in the health care decision, suggesting that he placed the legitimacy of the Court and the cohesion of the country above his own views. Relatedly, both Adam Liptak of The New York Times and Robert Barnes of the Washington Post note this Term’s “lack of predictable ideological splits,” which both suggest may be attributable to the Chief Justice’s leadership.  In contrast, the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal (both here and here) argues that the Chief Justice’s opinion “validating the constitutional arguments against purchase mandates and 5-4 ruling endorsing them as taxes is far more dangerous, and far more political, even than it first appeared last week.”

As Joshua reported in Friday’s round-up, several analysts and commentators have emphasized that, even as they lost on the individual mandate, conservatives arguably won the bigger war with the ruling’s rejection of the federal government’s argument that the mandate was justified under the Commerce Clause. James Stewart of the New York Times, David Savage of the Los Angeles Times, Randy Barnett at the Washington Post, and John Yoo at the Wall Street Journal all touch on this issue, while other coverage – including Bloomberg’s Bob Drummond – has focused on the legal implications of the Court’s ruling on the Medicaid expansion provision for future efforts by Congress to influence the states through federal funds.  Greenwire discusses the consequences for the Clean Air Act, while Jon Ward of the Huffington Post discusses the definition of a tax versus a penalty.

On Thursday, the Court also issued its opinion in United States v. Alvarez, holding that the Stolen Valor Act — which makes it a crime to falsely represent that you have been awarded any decoration or medal authorized by Congress for the Armed Forces of the United States — violates the First Amendment. Commentary on this decision continues, with the editorial boards of the Washington Postand the Los Angeles Times praising the decision.  In his column for Bloomberg View, Noah Feldman considers why the Court found protection for lies and concludes that falsehoods in debate promote the truth through their “collision with error.” The Associated Press covers the reactions of military veterans to the decision.

In an order list released on Friday, the Court denied review of the Third Circuit’s decision throwing out the $550,000 fine that the FCC imposed on CBS for Janet Jackson’s infamous “wardrobe malfunction” at the 2004 Super Bowl.  Coverage comes from this blog’s Lyle Denniston, Bloomberg, the Associated Press, Reuters, and the Huffington Post.

Finally, as this blog’s Lyle Denniston reported on Friday, Republican leaders in the House of Representatives have filed a cert. petition asking the Court to review a First Circuit decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).


  • Kevin Sack and Eric Lichtblau of the New York Times chronicle the unlikely success of the Republican attorneys general who filed the original challenge to the Affordable Care Act.
  • In his column for Bloomberg View, Stephen Carter contends that “the most fascinating aspect” of the Court’s decision was the fact that, “until the ruling was handed down, nobody outside the court knew what the outcome was going to be.”
  • The New York Times and Bloomberg report on reactions to the health care ruling by Solicitor General Donald Verrilli. 
  • At the Washington Post, Michael Serota argues that the average American’s inability to understand the Justices’ opinions detracts from the Court’s transparency and accountability.
  • At the Atlantic, Andrew Cohen urges his readers to consider the Court’s power—and the importance of just one more vote—at the polls this fall.
  • The editorial board of the New York Times applauds the Court’s decision in Arizona v. United States and urges states to “stop concocting criminal dragnets for civil violators.”

Posted in Round-up

Recommended Citation: Marissa Miller, Monday round-up, SCOTUSblog (Jul. 2, 2012, 11:24 AM),