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Alan Pell Crawford
Alan Pell Crawford

Alan Pell Crawford is the author, most recently, of Twilight at Monticello: The Final Years of Thomas Jefferson, a Book of the Month Club selection and Washington Post Best Seller. A journalist and political analyst, a former U.S. Senate speechwriter and congressional press secretary, Crawford is also an accomplished public speaker and has addressed audiences throughout the United States.

Blaming John Roberts

Alan Pell Crawford

Ira Stoll, author of the biography Samuel Adams and editor of, makes a plausible argument that opponents of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) are mistaken to unleash their fury, as they have, at Chief Justice John Roberts.

There’s a lot wrong with the law, Stoll writes on

… it’s a huge tax increase, it’s a redistribution of wealth, it increases the size of government, it’s an overly complex exercise in central planning, it breaks Barack Obama’s campaign promises, its implementation is timed so as to avoid electoral responsibility, it’s a distraction from higher priority issues, it’s unpopular with voters, it’s bad for the economy.

But it’s not Roberts’ fault. He simply declined to overrule most of the law, stating that the court possesses “neither the expertise nor the prerogative to make policy judgments,” as advocates of “judicial restraint” have argued for years. Assuming Roberts is wrong and every bit of ACA is unconstitutional, policy choices ultimately rest with members of Congress and the people who elect them.

It’s up to the citizens acting through their elected representatives to overturn the law, which, in Stoll’s view, “may be bad policy even if it is largely legal under the Constitution.” Conservatives at least in recent decades have not looked to the court to do the hard work for them, and it would be a mistake to scrap that principle now.


Sources: Ira Stoll, “Fury at Chief Justice John Roberts is Misplaced,”, July 2, 2012.
*Photo CC courtesy of DonkeyHotey.