The Spectacle Blog

Mark Levin on John Roberts: Regrets of a Roberts Supporter

By on 6.29.12 | 12:05PM

Mark Levin is uniquely situated to analyze what happened with Chief Justice John Roberts yesterday.

The Landmark Legal Foundation, which Levin heads, filed an amicus brief on ObamaCare.

Last night on his radio show (audio here) Levin walked his listeners through a devastating legal takedown of Roberts.

One can only be speechless at Roberts' action.

In August 2005, I was one of a number of people asked to go around the country in the run-up to Roberts' confirmation hearings as an Associate Justice. The task: sell John Roberts in media appearances in states with undecided senators.  Roberts, recall, was first nominated to replace Sandra Day O'Connor. It wasn't until after the death of Chief Justice Rehnquist in September that Roberts' nomination was changed by President Bush to Chief Justice, with (eventually) Sam Alito getting the nod for the O'Connor seat.

For two weeks between August 16 and August 31 a group of Roberts surrogates spread out across the country to brief on John Roberts. All had either some connection professionally and personally to Roberts, or, as with myself, had been extensively involved in judicial nomination fights.

In addition to myself, they were, by name:

John Smietanka
Victoria Toensing
Adam Charnes
Barbara Comstock
Rob Knauss
George Soule
Ben Ginsberg
David Leitch
Wendy Long
Dean Colson
Peter Rusthoven
H.P.Goldfield
Judy Hope
Greg Garre

It would be interesting to get their thoughts on John Roberts today.

I was paired with Rob Knauss on a trip to Fargo, North Dakota. Rob, now a Los Angeles attorney, is a close friend of John Roberts, both fellow law clerks for Chief Justice Rehnquist.

If there was one thing I heard over and over it was what a great conservative John Roberts was. What a smart lawyer. And so, with tremendous support from conservatives, John Roberts was bumped up from being a nominee for Associate Justice to being Chief. And he was confirmed.

You know what made me uncomfortable with John Roberts later? The business with the swearing-in of President Obama.

How hard was that to do? One has a 3 X 5 card in one's hand with the oath written in plain English and reads it, with appropriate pauses for the oath-taker to respond. Easy, yes?

No. Not for John Roberts. Why? Apparently he was so enamored with his own memory that he stood up there -- with literally the world looking on -- and screwed up the presidential oath. Embarrassingly, to be on the safe side, Roberts had to go to the White House and repeat the ceremony in private. What this said to me was that there was a touch of hubris here, or maybe it was pride. In any event, what has been a simple tradition since 1789 was screwed up for the first time for no other reason than that John Roberts refused to hold a simple 3x5 card in his hand.

What Roberts did yesterday was not the work of a smart lawyer, as a genuinely smart lawyer (Levin) demonstrates in detail.

What Roberts did do was try and be something he was never supposed to be -- a politician. And in the doing of it he embarrassed not only himself but the Supreme Court.

Brent Bozell has said that Roberts' reputation will never be rehabilitated after this.

He's right.  

And as Mark Levin notes -- Justices Thomas, Kennedy, Scalia and Alito -- did a superb job.

In the fallout over this, it seems instantly clear that John Roberts has elected Mitt Romney. The rebellion launched yesterday will have long lasting effects, and electing Romney is clearly going to be one of the, but not the only one. There are races for House and Senate all over this country that will now get a fresh infusion of cash and energy from angry conservatives. In fact, Romney's campaign says that once the understanding was out there of what Roberts had done, the Romney campaign had donations of four million dollars before the sun set.

But in fact electing Romney isn't the job of a Chief Justice. The job of the Chief Justice is to interpret the Constitution -- not play politics.

John Roberts chose to play politics. And a breathtakingly blatant -- not to mention inept -- kind of politics.

Big mistake.

And the institution of the Supreme Court will suffer from it. Big time.

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