Over at the Grio, an African-American news site run by NBC News, Joy-Ann Reid reveals that the Supreme Court has sprung yet another leak:
A source with knowledge of the deliberations confirms to theGrio that Roberts, possibly as late as mid-June, was prepared to strike down the individual mandate, siding with his fellow conservative justices, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Libertarian-leaning Justice Anthony Kennedy. The source also confirms other elements of Crawford’s story — namely that intense pressure was being placed on Roberts by the conservatives to strike down the entire law.
Once again, the most important news here is not the revelation that Roberts may have been unsure of his vote until just a couple of weeks before he largely upheld the Affordable Care Act, although that fact does speak well about how the Court’s deliberative process often enables justices to think through erroneous views and realize that they are unsound. Rather, the most important news here is that yet another reporter has found a leak in the Supreme Court’s cone of silence.
As ThinkProgress explained on Tuesday, this kind of thing would not happen in a perfect world. Although there is some marginal value to learning right away what sort of alliances and negotiations occur within the Supreme Court’s marble palace, the fact remains that the Court’s deliberations rest on the assumption that justices can openly exchange ideas without fear that those conversations will later be used to embarrass them. If this assumption dies, the very deliberative process that may have enabled Roberts to realize his initial impression of the health care case was mistaken would suffer a serious wound.