While Republicans gasped as Chief Justice John Roberts joined the Supreme Court’s liberal wing in upholding the federal health care overhaul, clues in the dissent suggest the conservative jurist may have originally sided against the law.

Perhaps the country will never know, but legal experts have seized on a string of passages in the dissent that indicate their opinion was originally written as the majority ruling — one that would have struck down the law in its entirety.

Theories abound as to what clues the dissent offers. Did the minority justices simply set out to write their opinion with the confidence of a majority, without ever having five justices on board? Or did Roberts flip, perhaps under pressure to let stand an historic piece of legislation and/or battle the perception of the high court as partisan?

Continue reading →