“It is not known why Roberts changed his view on the mandate and decided to uphold the law,” the CBS report says.
The news report sparked a new round of criticism among conservative legal analysts.
“The fact that this decision was apparently political, rather than legal, completely undermines its legitimacy as a precedent,” said Randy Barnett, a professor at Georgetown University Law Center and one of the first legal scholars to raise questions about the constitutionality of the health-care reform law.
“Its result can be reversed by the People in November,” he added in a statement, “and its weak tax power holding reversed by any future court without pause.”
The Supreme Court upheld the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act last Thursday.
The decision surprised many conservative analysts who expected the chief justice to side with the court’s conservative wing to strike down the centerpiece of the law, the individual mandate requiring Americans to buy health insurance or pay a penalty.
At issue in the case was whether Congress overstepped its authority under the Commerce Clause by ordering Americans to engage in commercial transactions (buying insurance), which Congress would then regulate.
Roberts and four other conservative justices concluded that the so-called individual mandate exceeded limits on congressional power. Those five votes would have been enough to invalidate the mandate and establish a clear limit on the expansion of federal power under the Commerce Clause.