Thousands of people die each day that this guy pockets another 52 grand because they can't afford health care and other people don't want to do anything about it because it conflicts with their visions of eagles soaring over purple mountains.
Conservatives are reacting en mass to John Roberts' shocking betrayal by siding with the dreaded liberals in the case involving President Obama's flawed but hopeful health care law. Justice Roberts has thus legally removed the word "unconstitutional" from the right's litany of legitimate denunciations. I used the qualifier "legitimate" because, as we all know, a little thing like the Supreme Court won't stop them from hurling their ultimate epithet at the Affordable Care Act. The U word.
The Constitution is a very personal document to them. Everything they personally disagree with is "unconstitutional."
The right wing's vanguard of political pundits worked overtime to think of new names to call Justice Roberts. And "reliable" dropped percipitously.
My favorite explanation for Roberts' traitorous retreat to principal over partisanship came from one of the right's lavishly compensated media stars. These guys all love America so much that they are perfectly willing to undermine every step forward that is made on the country's behalf as long as there's a book deal on the horizon for them.
And there is absolutely no bar too low that Michael Savage can't slither under it. His explanation for the betrayal was that John Roberts was in the grip of a reaction to the anti-seizure medication that he occasionally takes. Dr. Savage, telling his rapt listening audience that they would only get this information from him (that is certainly a reasonable expectation), went on to use the impressive terms like "cognitive dissociation" as the reason for the Chief Justice's bizarrely ethical behavior. So evidently, during the months and months of analysis, study, and debate, Roberts was determined to strike down the law, but when it came time to render a decision, the effect of the pills forced him to scribble "yes" on a little piece of embossed paper. Light flooded entire rooms from the dim little bulbs that hover over the heads of thousands of his radio fans: "I'll bet rendering a judicial decision while you are taking medication is unconstitutional."
Rush Limbaugh didn't make any mention of leaving the country and he has reneged on that glorious promise before. All he could come up with was the old chestnut about media bias that he sculpted like a piece of Play-Doh around the court's decision. For such an important event, it was certainly a second- rate Rush rationalization.
I'm not sure what Glen Beck was trying to do, but at least he didn't cry. On a set that looked like a cross between the control room of the Starship Enterprise and Pee Wee's Playhouse, he was intoning the standard "end of America as we know it" jargon. Then, some shadowy figure, which I was later told was a character from, "The Princess Bride," intoned some ominous remark that even seemed to embarrass Beck - no small accomplishment. The entire segment should be put into a time capsule as an example to future generations that intellectual development in humans wasn't uniform as late as the start of the 21st century.
Michele Bachmann, whose tenure as presidential timber hardly made it past the sapling stage, pronounced Roberts an "activist" judge. If you look at history, as Ms. Bachmann obviously does, as what happened a few days ago, she may have had a point.
Most historians, however, like to reach a little further back and, using the word in the derogatory sense that Bachmann surely intended, it's a bit difficult to put the brand of "activist" on Mr. Roberts' backside. At least the kind of subversive, anti-liberty activist to which she was referring. I didn't hear the word applied to him from the right after the Citizens United ruling or in a hundred other major cases when Roberts sided with conservatives.
I guess the word "activist" is a little like "unconstitutional." It's very adaptable.
It would be comforting to think that the men and women who sit on the Supreme Court are something more than mere reflections of the political bias of the people who put them there. Most of them are not. If Thomas, Alito, and Scalia could be depended upon to oppose the Affordable Care Act, the same can be said of the liberal justices' support of it.
The exalted judges on the Supreme Court are there largely through the beneficence of politicians. How strongly they feel a sense of loyalty to a political ideology is, hopefully, at odds with their own notions of professional - and personal - integrity. But the potential for bias is as obvious as it is perilous.
It isn't the Supreme Court's role to decide whether an issue is politically, socially, or economically wise. In the case of the Affordable Care Act, they were obligated to rule on the constitutionality of a law passed by Congress. What John Roberts did that was extraordinary was to rise above the constriction of what was expected of him and find the courage to do what was right during a crucial moment in America's constant evolution towards being something better.
And, wonder of all wonders, some good finally came out of Dark Ages II.
Alden Graves is a Banner columnist and reviewer.