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Interference

King v. Burwell versus Marbury v. Madison by Robert Tracinski.

It’s time to add another item to the list of discarded liberal pieties: judicial review.

The Supreme Court is no longer here to hold the executive branch accountable to the Constitution or the letter of the law. It’s here to run interference for the executive, to help it rewrite the law to fit its needs. And yesterday’s ruling in King v. Burwell doesn’t really make any bones about that. What the majority decision says is that in order to fit the larger context of the legislation’s overall goals, they had to interpret the language in a way other than the “most natural sense”—and “natural” here is a weaselly term for “the plain, obvious meaning of the words.”

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Related: John Roberts’ Judicial Abdication by Damon Root.

American conservatives are furious once again with Chief Justice John Roberts. For the second time in three years, Roberts has led the Supreme Court in saving the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act from legal doom. In 2012 Roberts upheld Obamacare’s constitutionality. Yesterday, in King v. Burwell, he interpreted the law in accordance with the wishes of the Obama administration to allow tax credits to be available in connection with federally established health care exchanges.

Writing at The Week, conservative pundit Matt K. Lewis says “John Roberts abandoned conservatives” in King v. Burwell and abandoned “the conservative legal philosophy [he] is supposed to hold true to.”

In a word, no. John Roberts may have infuriated many conservatives, but that’s not the same thing as abandoning his conservative legal philosophy. In fact, when you take a closer look, you’ll find that Roberts’ behavior in the two Obamacare cases is quite consistent with one particular school of conservative legal thought. That school is committed to the idea of judicial deference.

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