Since the Roberts opinion on ‘Obamacare’ was issued, no matter how many points he struck for conservatives along the way, Chief Justice Roberts and the entire Supreme Court have taken a beating in Republican opinion polls. Since 2005, Robert’s favorability rating among Republicans has dropped a whopping 40%.
Like them or hate them, these polls reflect exactly why the Supreme Court seats are permanent. Not only have 40% of Republicans changed their opinion of the entire Supreme Court and Chief Justice Roberts largely on the basis of one outcome, the vast majority of people who hold any opinion on the matter have very little knowledge of the role of the Supreme Court and the development of Constitutional law. If they did, the polls should show that not only was Robert’s consistent with his conservative past, he executed a brilliant opinion that drove a huge stake into the ‘liberal’ use of the Commerce Clause, the Necessary and Proper Clause, and in the use of federal mandates as a way to dictate policy to the states.
Had Roberts written the same opinion, without upholding ‘Obamacare’ on less ‘liberal’ grounds, not only would Roberts have compromised his appearance of impartiality, his opinion would not hold the same Constitutional credibility it will now serve as precedent for future attempts at government expansion. And Fox News would would say its a great opinion.
Yet, among three identified groups of voters (Republicans, Democrats, and Independents) Roberts and the today’s conservative Supreme Court has the lowest approval rating. From Gallup:
Now, in the aftermath of the decision that upheld Democratic President Barack Obama’s signature first-term legislative accomplishment, Republicans’ views are the least positive among the three partisan groups, their attitudes about Roberts having shifted dramatically from a +63 net positive to a -17 net negative. Democrats’ opinions shifted over the same period from a +4 to a +35, while those of independents mirrored the national pattern, moving from a +30 to a +10. Americans overall are still more positive than negative about Roberts, 39% to 29%, but this +10 margin is significantly smaller than the +33 in 2005.