Morning Joe: Blocking Louisiana Abortion Law Upheld ‘Integrity’ of Supreme Court

On Friday, MSNBC’s Morning Joe was relieved by the Supreme Court’s decision to temporarily block a Louisiana law that would require abortion providers to have hospital admitting privileges. Host Joe Scarborough hailed Chief Justice John Roberts for siding with liberals to impose a stay on the policy until a final ruling was handed down, declaring the move maintained the “integrity” of the high court.

The anchor fondly recalled: “...this reminds me of what John Roberts did in the ObamaCare case....at the time, people were saying Roberts was trying to defend the integrity of the Supreme Court and the reputation of the Supreme Court.” Scarborough imagined that Roberts was telling the country: “I understand there are a lot of people that want Roe v. Wade overturned now, like Brett Kavanaugh, but I’m not going to so quickly jump into that fray for a 50-year precedent that, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll from last year, 67% of Americans don’t want overturned.”

He then warned: “That would severely undermine, I’m sure many people would believe, the credibility of the Supreme Court.”

 

 

Political analyst and favorite MSNBC Republican Susan Del Percio chimed in to agree with Scarborough:

That’s absolutely right, Joe. And this is about the integrity. And this – you know, this particular case was a law written to prevent women from having abortions. It was written in such a way that it only allows, I think, one doctor in the entire state to meet all the qualifications, which is absurd.

The supposed “Republican strategist” argued that Roberts was “just trying to show that this can be a balanced, independent institution, which is so important now as we have a president who’s looking to just defile all of our basic pillars of democracy.”

Turning to liberal Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson, Scarborough compared Roberts to past swing-vote members of the Supreme Court, Anthony Kennedy and Sandra Day O’Connor, whom he praised for “looking at where two-thirds of Americans were and also trying to figure out exactly how far they can move the Supreme Court in one direction or another with severely damaging the reputation of that court.”

Robinson eagerly agreed: “John Roberts is an institutionalist, he is the closest thing to a swing vote on this court right now. But he really is an institutionalist and he doesn’t just understand precedent, he values it.”

As Scarborough referenced, the media absolutely adored Roberts in 2012 when he again joined court liberals to uphold ObamaCare. On NBC Nightly News, then-anchor Brian Williams proclaimed that the Chief Justice bowing to liberal pressure “might have saved” the Supreme Court.

Despite the love for Roberts now, when he was first nominated to the high court by President George W. Bush in 2005, the press immediately went to work sounding the alarm that he was “very, very conservative.”

Here is a full transcript of the February 8 panel discussion on Morning Joe:

6:43 AM ET

JOE SCARBOROUGH: As we mentioned at the top of the hour, Chief Justice John Roberts broke with the court’s conservatives late last night to block a Louisiana law that would have severely limited access to abortion clinics in the state of Louisiana.

Susan Del Percio, this reminds me of what John Roberts did in the ObamaCare case, where his decision – after – the decision basically can be summed up this way, “I’m not going to do for you, in a court decision, what you can do for yourself at the ballot box.” And that was – at the time, people were saying Roberts was trying to defend the integrity of the Supreme Court and the reputation of the Supreme Court.

Here, it seems, at least for now, you have John Roberts saying, “I understand there are a lot of people that want Roe v. Wade overturned now, like Brett Kavanaugh, but I’m not going to so quickly jump into that fray for a 50-year precedent that, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll from last year, 67% of Americans don’t want overturned.” That would severely undermine, I’m sure many people would believe, the credibility of the Supreme Court.

SUSAN DEL PERCIO [REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST]: That’s absolutely right, Joe. And this is about the integrity. And this – you know, this particular case was a law written to prevent women from having abortions. It was written in such a way that it only allows, I think, one doctor in the entire state to meet all the qualifications, which is absurd.

Now, it’s working it’s way through the courts, so this is just a stay. But I also think, going back to the integrity of the court,  Judge Roberts knows there’s going to be a lot – or suspects there’s going to be a lot of legal challenges coming through, and I think he’s just trying to show that this can be a balanced, independent institution, which is so important now as we have a president who’s looking to just defile all of our basic pillars of democracy.

SCARBOROUGH: Well, and Gene, it looks like at least again, at least for this stay, John Roberts is filling the position that Anthony Kennedy did before and Sandra Day O’Connor did before, where, yes, they were looking at the law, but they were also looking at where two-thirds of Americans were and also trying to figure out exactly how far they can move the Supreme Court in one direction or another with severely damaging the reputation of that court.

EUGENE ROBINSON [WASHINGTON POST COLUMNIST]: Yeah, and they’re doing it. You mentioned Sandra Day O’Connor and Anthony Kennedy, I mean, they’ve all played this role in slightly different ways. I think Sandra Day O’Connor, a former politician, was more sort of  obviously political in her judgments and Kennedy was a bit different.

John Roberts is an institutionalist, he is the closest thing to a swing vote on this court right now. But he really is an institutionalist and he doesn't just understand precedent, he values it. And so, you know, in 2016 the court struck down a Texas law that was basically just like this Louisiana law, so with that precedent, I think there was no way that Roberts was gonna allow the conservative majority to just sort of reverse it a couple, you know, a couple of years later and say, you know, “Have at [it], anti-abortion forces.” So it’s going to be very interesting going forward, but he is the closest thing to a swing vote now.

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