Chief Justice Roberts

Back in 2012, U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts mangled his constitutional role to save Obamacare, by radically and sympathetically reinterpreting the meaning of its “individual mandate” in defiance of the Obama administration’s own account of that mandate. At the time, my editors at American Thinker, along with AT’s lone permanent weekly contributor, Clarice Feldman (echoing George Will and other prominent establishmentarians), set about distorting the facts and their own minds to convince themselves that Roberts’ dereliction of duty was some kind of brilliant political strategy — “98-dimensional chess,” as many of these same establishment apologists later came to describe every obvious betrayal by a certain GOP puppet-hero.

On July 1st, 2012, the day after Feldman’s untenable claim that Roberts’ move had been an act of ingenious political gamesmanship — as though such gamesmanship itself would not have been a violation of the constitutional role of a supreme court justice — AT, which still had its marbles in those days, posted my counterargument to that sympathetic reading, “Still Struggling with the Roberts-as-Hero Theory,” in which I tactfully (by my standards) agreed to disagree with Feldman and the editors, before explaining what Roberts had really done, as seen without the establishment-colored glasses.

That demonstration of extreme normalcy bias from so many so-called conservatives — their willingness to interpret even such an obvious and complete betrayal as a supreme act of friendship, in order to preserve their comforting sense of “the narrative” — ought to have been a clue as to how lightly attached they were to any real principles or theoretical mooring. As we subsequently learned, most “conservative media” representatives have literally no limit to what they will accept in the name of maintaining their reassuring lie of “our team versus their team.”

I see that Roberts has proved himself anything but a principled conservative justice yet again, by siding with the court’s four progressives to protect Obama’s DACA program for illegal immigrants. Today, of course, the tide has shifted in the GOP tribe, and no one feels obliged to defend Roberts as a clever conservative anymore, particularly when his judgment stands in direct defiance of the tribe’s one true god of the moment, Donald Trump. As we know all too well, there is no one in their entire country, from Jeff Sessions to John Bolton to Ted Cruz to Mike Lee, and so on, whom they would not throw into the burning pit to preserve their newest fantasy, namely that Trump — the most virulently anti-republican man ever to “serve” as U.S. president — is the most genuine conservative and greatest America-loving genius in the room.

So here is where normalcy bias asserts itself today. I see that Trump has responded to the latest Roberts sellout — I suppose one can hardly call it a sellout anymore, but must instead regard it as par for the course — with an electioneering promise to appoint more supreme court justices, which is to say more conservative or constitution-friendly judges. His cult, of course, including the old gang at American Thinker, will shout “Hurrah!” and give each other high fives for supporting such a great president — probably the greatest in American history. 

Normalcy bias, my friends. It takes a lot of gall — or in this case, more likely, a lot of stupidity, which Trump certainly has — for Trump to puff himself up as the man who will save the supreme court barely a day after his first brilliant nominee, Justice Gorsuch, took the extreme “legislating from the bench” approach to the issue of “sex discrimination,” effectively rewriting the Civil Rights Act to accommodate his politically correct sympathies with the LGBTQ faction, and spitting on the concept of private property rights in the process. 

Far from proving that conservatives must vote for Trump to save the supreme court from the activist wing, the Roberts decision, along with the previous day’s majority opinion from Gorsuch, only go to show the futility of imagining that the court is salvageable as a force for republican limits at this late stage of deterioration. Roberts was appointed by a Republican president, supposedly as a conservative. So was Gorsuch. Who, then, is going to fight this great fight for a restrained judiciary? Brett the Beer-Sotted Crier Kavanaugh? Spare me. 

“Oh, but Trump’s next nominee will tip the court in favor of the conservative side,” they will insist.

Normalcy bias is an amazing thing. 

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