Power Players

Did Chief Justice Roberts save the Supreme Court?

Power Players

Top Line

ABC 'Nightline' anchor Terry Moran joined Top Line for a special edition dissecting the Supreme Court's decision on health care, a blockbuster ruling which upheld President Obama's signature piece of legislation. And the president and supporters of the law were not the only victors.

Chief Justice John "Roberts rode to the rescue of the Obama health care plan, and maybe rode to the rescue of the Supreme Court, as well," says Moran, who has been covering the Supreme Court for many years.

The justices have seen the esteem for the court diminish over these hyper partisan years. Since Bush v. Gore, polls show Americans feel less confident in the court. The court has no way to enforce its decisions except in the confidence of the people.

"The prestige of the court is the source of its authority," says Moran, "and justices can't be happy if [the court] is just another football in the political war."

Justice Roberts explained his vision of the Supreme Court during his 2005 confirmation hearings.

"Judges are like umpires. Umpires don't make the rules; they apply them," said Roberts at the time. "The role of an umpire and a judge is critical. They make sure everybody plays by the rules, but it is a limited role. Nobody ever went to a ballgame to see the umpire."

But does Justice Roberts, a Bush appointee who generally votes with his conservative colleagues, risk being vilified by the right? Check out this week's Top Line for more on that.

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