The Hill recently named me “the unofficial emcee of Washington’s new favorite parlor game: guess the leaker,” so I figured it was time for an update on the latest in leaking. The dueling Supreme Court leakers took a few days off for July 4th. But now they’re back, with Jan Crawford’s latest story, Discord at the Supreme Court is Deep, and Personal, via Howard Bashman. What’s new? For starters, the conservative Justices are really pissed off at the Chief Justice:
Conservatives feel a sense of betrayal. They feel that Roberts changed his mind for the wrong reasons.
If Roberts had been with the liberals from the beginning, sources tell me that would have been one thing; but switching his position – and relatively late in the process – infuriated the conservatives.
Of course it’s unclear why he switched. He may have been focused solely on the law. But that is not what some of his colleagues believe.
Crawford suggests that the anger towards Roberts my be related to his first full term, when he made the liberal Justices mad by making it seem like he was open-minded when he really planned to vote the conservative party-line. This made other Justices question Roberts’ candor, which created unhappiness that the Roberts vote switch triggered again:
Liberal justices thought Roberts had signaled he would be open to compromise and be more moderate. But he sided with conservatives that year, making the liberals feel misled. They were furious. As one said at the time: “He talks the talk, but won’t walk the walk.”
Conservatives were angry at Roberts, too – they thought he gave the liberals false hope. He ended up just pushing them further away.
That tension eased over the summer of 2007. But this conflict among conservatives – after Roberts “walked the walk” with liberals – may take much longer to resolve.
Second, Crawford’s sources have more on the origins of the joint dissent. You’ll recall that the original Crawford leakers said that it was a true joint effort, but the Campos leaker said that it was mostly just the Chief Justice’s original majority opinion. Crawrford’s sources are adamant that it was truly a joint effort of the dissenters. Why does it read like a majority opinion, then? Crawford writes:
They set out writing their own opinion – they wrote it to look like a majority decision, according to sources, because they hoped Roberts would rejoin them to strike down the mandate. Kennedy relentlessly lobbied Roberts until the end to come back. Of course he did not, and the conservatives’ decision became a dissent.