Chief Justice Roberts votes for Obama, who didn’t vote for him


Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts (Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty Images)

Obama actually wanted to vote for Roberts, as Richard Wolffe recounts in his excellent book, “Renegade: The Making of a President,” but was talked out of it by his trusted adviser, Pete Rouse.

“You know,” he told his staff, “I would hope, if I’m president someday, twenty years down the road, Republicans will judge my nominees on the merits, whether they agree with them philosophically or not.”

Rouse, a Hill veteran who is now Obama’s deputy chief of staff, must have sighed when he responded.

“This isn’t Harvard Law School’s moot court,” he argued. “This is the political arena. If this guy is technically qualified and a brilliant legal mind, that’s fine. But in the real world, votes have consequences,” Wolffe wrote in 2010.

Rouse said Republicans 20 years later weren’t going “to vote for a Larry Tribe” because Obama had voted for Roberts. “That might be different,” Rouse said, “but that’s not going to happen,” Rouse explained to the new kid on the block.

“The reality is you’re going to have to live with the consequences of this vote 20 years from now and they’re not likely to be good,” Still, Obama castigated “progressives for their attacks on his fellow Democrats who voted for Roberts,” Wolffe wrote.

Good thing for Obama that Roberts got confirmed anyway. No telling if another chief would have broken with his fellow judges and conservative pundits — who have taken to calling him a “traitor to his philosophy” and mumbling about impeaching him.

Unclear if Obama has been giving Rouse grief about his prediction.

(Special Loop thanks to The Post’s fact-checker, Glenn Kessler, who actually remembered this passage.)

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993.

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