Actually, just like most cert petitions, drama got denied. In an interview last night with Piers Morgan of CNN, Justice Antonin Scalia, the Supreme Court’s longest-serving member, denied that he had any kind of tiff with Chief Justice John Roberts over National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius (aka the Affordable Care Act case, aka Obamacare).
Justice Scalia’s denial of drama is pretty funny, actually. Let’s read about it — along with the latest opinion polls about public approval of the SCOTUS….
As we mentioned in Morning Docket, last night the famously feisty Justice Scalia — along with Bryan Garner, his co-author on a recently released book, Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts (affiliate link) — gave an interview to Piers Morgan. In the New York Times, Adam Liptak offered this account of the juiciest exchange:
Asked by CNN’s Piers Morgan whether he and Chief Justice Roberts “have had a parting of the ways, gone from best buddies to warring enemies,” Justice Scalia first ducked the question.
“Who told you that?” he asked.
Mr. Morgan cited news reports, prompting Justice Scalia to respond: “You should not believe what you read about the court in the newspapers. It’s either been made up or been given to the newspapers by somebody who’s violating a confidence, which means that person is not reliable.”
(Hmm, sounds like Justice Scalia was not involved in the leak to Jan Crawford of the Chief Justice’s vote switch.)
After protesting that he would not talk about internal matters, Justice Scalia relented. “No, I haven’t had a falling out with Justice Roberts,” he said. Asked whether there had been loud words or slammed doors, he said, “No, no, nothing like that.”
Shouting matches, slamming doors? What is this, As the SCOTUS Turns? All My Justices? When members of the Supreme Court diss each other, they do so in subtler ways (e.g., by ignoring a majority opinion in a lengthy joint dissent).
More generally, Justice Scalia said his colleagues had good personal relationships even as they disagreed on legal matters. That is consistent with reports from other justices.
“There are clashes on legal questions but not personally,” he said. “The press likes to paint us as nine scorpions in a bottle, and that’s just not the case at all.”
Among self-identified conservatives, just nine percent have a favorable view of Roberts, who was appointed to the high court by President George W. Bush. Twice as many, 18 percent, have an unfavorable view. Among liberals, 13 percent have a positive view of Roberts while 8 percent have an unfavorable view. Twenty percent of moderates approve of the chief justice.
The shift in conservative opinion about JGR just goes to show how strongly conservatives feel about Obamacare. Chief Justice Roberts went from being a golden child of the right to someone who is no longer a model for future Republican judicial nominees.
As for the Supreme Court as a whole, it has also taken a hit in the latest polling….