Does Roberts’ dissent in life-without-parole case hold hidden clue to Court’s healthcare ruling?

Updated

On The Last Word Wednesday, Lawrence O’Donnell interviewed Walter Dellinger, a former solicitor general in the Clinton administration, about which way the Supreme Court might rule Thursday on President Obama’s healthcare law. And Dellinger noted a fascinating piece of evidence buried in Monday’s ruling which might suggest the court will uphold the law.

Dellinger, citing the former New York Times reported Linda Greenhouse, noted that Chief Justice John Roberts wrote a dissent to the court’s ruling this week that juveniles could not be sentenced to life without parole. Dellinger continued:

He chose to make his dissent about the need to defer to the judgments made by the legislative branch of government. That was the theme of his dissent, in a case that was argued the same March seating as the healthcare case. I can’t believe he would set himself up, knowing the two decisions were coming down tis week, to be quoted against himself. I thought that was quite revealing.

Interesting. And of course, if Roberts ruled to uphold the healthcare law, it’s all but certain the law would stand, since the court’s four liberal justices are near locks to do the same.

Still, let’s not forget that Roberts told the Senate during his confirmation that he believed a Supreme Court justices job was merely “to call balls and strikes,” and many analysts argue he hasn’t stuck to that view since joining the bench. So perhaps his dissent in the parole case shouldn’t be seen as any indication of how he’ll view on healthcare. 

John Roberts

Does Roberts' dissent in life-without-parole case hold hidden clue to Court's healthcare ruling?

Updated