Opinion from Peter Scheer, executive director of the First Amendment Coalition:
Chief Justice John Roberts orchestrated the upholding of President Obama's health reform plan not because he believed that that was the legally correct outcome, and not because he wanted to spare Obama the loss of his singular legislative achievement. No, Roberts' deft decision, substantially upholding the health law — while simultaneously accepting, and constitutionalizing, all the main legal arguments against it — was intended to save the Court.
It remains to be seen whether Roberts will succeed. I, for one, applaud his handling of the health care case. But his legal legerdemain, and the ensuing flood of leaks from clerks and fellow justices unhappy about his supposed eleventh-hour conversion to the administration's side, underscore the Court's vulnerability to the same polarization that has neutered the rest of the federal government.
What can the Court do to shore up its legitimacy in a world in which the Glenn Becks and Keith Olbermanns are in ascendancy? Answer: It can, finally, open its doors to the public, permitting real-time video transmission, via TV and the internet, of the Court's proceedings.