WASHINGTON (UPI) — Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush had to answer for his father’s appointment of Supreme Court Justice David Souter and his brother’s appointment of Chief Justice John Roberts — two conservatives who made decisions widely considered liberal.
Since Justice Antonin Scalia died on Saturday, presidential candidates have been debating whether President Obama should appoint Scalia’s replacement, as he says he plans to do.
In an interview with CNN on Sunday, Bush called his father’s appointment of Souter “unfortunate,” but defended his brother’s appointment of Roberts.
“John Roberts can be a defended choice for sure because [the] Obamacare decision I was disappointed in, but he has made some really good rulings beyond that,” he said.
Souter was called a “home run” conservative appointment by White House Chief of Staff John Sununu under President George H.W. Bush. When he ascended to the bench in 1990, he initially voted with the conservative flank of the court.
Planned Parenthood v. Casey was the first blow for conservatives who had high hopes for Souter. The decision, which reaffirmed a woman’s constitutional right to have an abortion under certain restrictions, struck down a Pennsylvania law that required a woman’s spouse to be notified. Souter voted in favor of reaffirming the protections provided by Roe v. Wade.
The second case that soured conservatives on Souter was Lee v. Weisman, which ruled that public schools cannot sponsor clergy members to deliver prayers. Souter voted with the majority. From that point, Souter moved to the center, and then left of the court, voting reliably with the liberal flank.
As for Roberts, his was the swing vote in the 2012 case National Federation of Independent Businesses v. Sebelius. The decision upheld the “individual mandate” portion of the Affordable Care Act, which allowed the government to charge people a penalty for not having health insurance. The decision also struck down a portion of the law that withheld funds from states that refused to expand Medicaid. Roberts initially sided with the court’s conservative flank in seeking to strike down the mandate, but then switched his opinion.
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