John Roberts' One Question on ObamaCare May Be Huge
Jeffrey Toobin thinks he may be leaning to save the law, for now
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 5, 2015 1:08 PM CST
Chief Justice John Roberts speaks at the University of Nebraska Lincoln in Lincoln, Neb.   (AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File)

(Newser) – In yesterday's arguments about ObamaCare before the Supreme Court, Chief Justice John Roberts surprised observers by saying almost nothing. But the single question he did ask might well have tipped his hand, writes Jeffrey Toobin at the New Yorker. If Toobin is right, it's a mixture of good and bad news for the White House: Roberts would vote to keep the law in place—but leave the door open for a future president to gut it. Roberts' question came after Solicitor General Donald Verrilli argued that under precedent set in a Chevron case, the Obama administration has the flexibility to interpret the health law broadly enough to get around troublesome wording about subsidies at the heart of the case.

“If you’re right about Chevron, that would indicate that a subsequent administration could change that interpretation?” Roberts asked. Verrilli acknowledged it could. This "suggests a route out of the case for Roberts," who is generally opposed to the idea of limiting the power of presidents, writes Toobin. He could provide the swing vote to uphold the law, "with a reminder that a new election is fast approaching"—and a reminder that a new president could re-interpret the law immediately. "In other words, the future of ObamaCare should be up to the voters, not the justices." Click to read the full post.