Note the close parallels between my statements in this CBS News report and on the mandate decision, and those of University of Michigan law professor Richard Friedman, a well-known liberal legal scholar. It’s almost as if we coordinated our remarks in advance. But in truth I had no idea what he said until I read the article afterwards:
Although his liberal allies found that the commerce clause is a justifiable means to invoke the mandate, Roberts found it does not give Congress that authority. However, the court determined the mandate is constitutional under Congress’ power to “lay and collect taxes.”
Ilya Somin, law professor at George Mason University who wrote an amicus brief opposing the mandate, said he is “more surprised” that the court upheld it under the tax provision.
It was “the federal government’s weakest argument,” he said.
Richard Friedman, law professor at the University of Michigan, also said he was surprised that Roberts backed the tax argument, which he also called “the weaker argument....”
The University of Michigan’s Friedman attributed Roberts’ position to the weight of the case. “He was reluctant to see his court be the first one in 75 years to throw out a significant piece of legislation.”
Somin, who opposed the mandate agreed, saying, “It is generally rare for a court to strike down major legislation that has the support of the president and his party,”