Alberto Gonzales knows something about distorting the law. As George W. Bush’s White House Counsel, he called the Geneva Convention’s protections for wartime prisoners “quaint” and played a key role in authorizing the Bush Administration’s torture policies. As Attorney General, he presided over massive efforts to politicize the Justice Department’s hiring process, infamously delegating responsibility for much of DOJ’s hiring to former Republican National Committee opposition researcher Monica Goodling.
And yet, in an interview on Fox News this afternoon, even he couldn’t bring himself to claim that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional:
QUESTION: Some on the right are now saying they are concerned that Chief Justice Roberts is not going to go along with the way they want to see this case come out. They believe he might go with the liberals in a possible decision to uphold the law. As you say, having been the man to recommend him to the high Court to President Bush, what is your anecdotal thought on it?
GONZALES: This is a very hard decision. I almost laugh when I hear pundits say it’s going to go this way, it’s going to go that way, it’s a fairly easy decision. I think this is a very difficult decision.
For the record, it’s not just “pundits” who say that this is an easy case. It’s also iconic conservative judges. Judge Laurence Silberman, who received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Gonzales’ former boss, upheld the law because the case against it “cannot find real support . . . in either the text of the Constitution or Supreme Court precedent.” Judge Jeffrey Sutton, a former law clerk to conservative Justice Antonin Scalia who spent much of his pre-judicial career looking for ways to undermine federal power, nonetheless wrote his own opinion rejecting a challenge to the Affordable Care Act. And Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson, one of the finalists for the Supreme Court seat President Bush eventually gave to Chief Justice Roberts, called the case against health reform “a prescription for economic chaos that the framers, in a simpler time, had the good sense to head off.”
So the Affordable Care Act lawsuit is not a hard case — it is one of the easiest cases the Supreme Court has heard in years. The fact that former Bush Administration official who devoted much of his career to placing politics ahead of the law isn’t willing to embrace the case against health reform only lends credence to that fact.