Hail to the (New) Chief: Death With Dignity-Part III

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So, what might be gleaned from the New Chief’s silent joining of Justice Scalia’s dissenting opinion in Gonzalez v. Oregon? First, as to be expected (at least for now), he is influenced more by his experiences as a former executive branch lawyer and member of the political elite than he is by any popular backlash against the unitary executive model.

Second, national interests trump state interests–even where there is ambiguity in the federal statute. His own questions at oral argument, particularly his concern for the uniformity and supremacy of federal law, suggested this outcome. Federalism is messy, and it appears he is unwilling to countenance too much muss. He, like Scalia, is willing to read Congress’ enumerated powers broadly (and the core of state’s rights narrowly in advance of national interests)–even when the strongest interest appears to be in cultivating moral standards. This is bad news for proponents of interstitial federalism.

Third, his willingness to sign Scalia’s dissent in toto–and thereby subjugate his own ego in a high-profile matter–shows that he is as savvy as his confirmation hearings suggested. The practice of writing separately has almost become a custom with the Rehnquist Court. He is willing to buck this trend, to allow Scalia to speak for this coalition on this day with a single voice, and to build his alliances carefully–starting with his natural friends.


Death With Dignity–Part I

Death With Dignity–Part II

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3 Responses

  1. Bruce says:

    “He is willing to buck this trend, to allow Scalia to speak for this coalition on this day with a single voice, and to build his alliances carefully–starting with his natural friends.”

    It also insulates him if he changes his mind, or at least refines his thinking, later. He won’t have his words quoted back at him in some dissenting opinion down the road. Or, perhaps his circuit court experience hasn’t worn off yet, where it’s far more unusual to produce multiple opinions. Of course, it’s possible to read too much into the tea leaves — it might signify nothing. That’s the frustrating thing about Kreminology: you won’t know the answer until 20 or 30 years later.

  2. ReidBlog says:

    Roberts watch

    It remains to be seen whether I was completely suckered by John Roberts’ charm and intelligence during his confirmation hearings. But there are interesting signs…

  3. Roberts: a “Serious Catholic” dissent against euthanasia?

    As SCOTUSBlog noted yesterday, Gonzales v.