The sense that John Roberts betrayed conservatives with his vote upholding Obamacare is widespread, but it's probably misplaced. Republicans have already seized on his "tax" label, and the young Chief Justice's interpretation of the commerce clause will have ramifications for years. Rush Limbaugh, in a heroic bit of ad-lib rapid response, declared soon after the decision, "We have been betrayed and deceived by the Supreme Court." The decision to call the individual mandate a tax, the radio host said, meant "the Internal Revenue Service has just become Barack Obama's domestic army." Limbaugh was far from alone. The chief justice's Wikipedia page was briefly changed to list him as the "17th Chief Traitor of the United States," as Talking Points Memo noticed. Commenters on conservative blogs and tweeters urged impeachment, Politico's Tim Mak details. The photo at left was posted in the "RINO HALL OF SHAME" album of the Facebook page "SEAL THE US BORDER NOW!" Tank tops screaming "Impeach John Roberts" were quickly posted on CafePress.
Oh how things have changed! In July 2010, Conservative Examiner's Anthony Martin posted the headline, "Sources Say Smackdown of Obama by Supreme Court May Be Inevitable." Why? Roberts was mad at Obama -- he was even suspicious that Obama might not have been born in America. "The Roberts Court has signaled, in a very subtle manner, of course, that it intends to address the issues about which Obama critics have been screaming to high heaven," Martin wrote. Today? Martin has no more faith in the chief justice. The Obama administration's defense of Obamacare made no sense, Martin writes, so Roberts' upholding the law "is tantamount to the Court making law out of thin air, something that Roberts as a so-called 'conservative' claimed he rejects. Thus, at best Roberts is insane. At worst he is not a conservative at all but a plant, a closet liberal who is no more worthy of serving on the Court than the other Constitution killers--Kagan, Sotomayor, Ginsberg, and Breyer."