07 May 2016

What CJ Roberts Lying?

In case you've missed one of the more arcane explanations for the rise of Donald Trump go here to read an article by by Ilya Shapiro that blames Chief Justice John Roberts and here to read a response by Orin Kerr who blames The Donald on people like Shapiro for blaming Roberts.

The gist of Shapiro's piece is that John Roberts lied in NFIB v. Sibelius, the Obamacare case. According to Shapiro and others, Roberts didn't really believe Obamacare was constitutional but helped form a majority upholding it for political reasons. In other words, Roberts was mistken, he was a liar. From there Shapiro goes on to conclude that Roberts's disingenuous Supreme Court opinion suddenly rendered right-leaning Americans utterly cynical, which explains why they now like Donald Trump, a cynic's cynic.

I response, Kerr accuses Shapiro and other conservatives of playing the cynic card so often that it's their fault "cynicized" Americans vote for Donald Trump.

My suggestion is to take another look at the basics and read erstwhile colleague Kenny Ching's article Roberts on Obamacare: Liar, Lunatic, or Legitimate about which I blogged four years ago here. Ching cogently argues that Roberts believed what he wrote. In other words, the Chief Justice may have been wrong but he wasn't a liar.

In any event, it goes to show the shallowness of passes for public intellectual discussion when anyone can believe that Roberts's opinion or conservatives' reaction to it can account for Donald Trump. We must look much closer to home to explain why someone as cynical as The Donald can garner the nomination of the Republican party and someone as venial as Hillary Clinton that of the Democrats. In other words, it is we Americans whose cynicism and venality explains why we find ourselves in this sad state.

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