His believable claim is that John Roberts -- at the very last moment -- changed his vote that would have struck down both the Individual Mandate and Obamacare. This claim did not originate with Levin. Various observers noted discrepancies in the opinions (e.g., Justice Ginsburg wrote as part of the "dissent"), including Senator Mike Lee, who clerked for Justice Alito.
I asked if he thought these tactics may have influenced Roberts.
“I certainly think that was the intent underlying those statements,” he said. “I try not to engage in too many layers of speculation, so I can’t prove that Chief Justice Roberts switched his vote. There are certainly signals to that effect here. But even if we reach that conclusion, we can’t be certain without Chief Justice Roberts telling us that he was influenced by that or any other single factor. But what we do know is that was the rather clear intent of those that were making those statements and there are certainly signals Chief Justice Roberts changed his mind and changed his vote, just based on the way the opinions are set up.”
What were the intimidation tactics used by the Left?
Democrats far and wide pinpointed Roberts as threatening the legitimacy of the Supreme Court would he have overturned Obamacare.
• Sen. Patrick Leahy, self-admitted socialist from Vermont, was accused of trying to intimidate Roberts: "Leahy took to the Senate floor to warn the Supreme Court, particularly Chief Justice John Roberts, not to strike down the Affordable Care Act."
• In April, Barack Obama threw in his two cents, asserting that the act of a Supreme Court in throwing out a law as unconstitutional would be "unprecedented" (note: of course it's not, it's occurred over 100 times in American history): "I’m confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress."
• Former Clinton administration official Robert Reich wrote: "The immediate question is whether the Chief Justice, John Roberts, understands the tenuous position of the Court he now runs."
• New Republic legal affairs editor Jeffrey Rosen stated, "The health care case will undoubtedly define his chief justiceship."
Given this as background, what possible reason would Roberts have for changing his mind at the last moment?
Option 1: VanityAccording to Washington insiders, Roberts enjoys nothing more than reading his press clippings. Howard Kurtz described Roberts:
...a longtime pillar of the Washington legal establishment, a member of the ultra-posh Chevy Chase Club, and someone who acquaintances say cares deeply about how he is portrayed in the press.
Option 2: More Nefarious ThreatsA conspiracy theory to be sure, but -- after all -- it's the Chicago Machine we're talking about. And the Obama administration and its various appendages haven't been shy about breaking new ground when it comes to presidential lawbreaking.
Allowing thousands of military-grade weapons to fall into the hands of the Mexican drug cartels, presumably to build up public support for stricter gun control measures, isn't exactly playing patty-cake.
Was a more serious and material threat directed at Roberts and his family?
Option 3: PromisesAnother conspiracy theory revolves around a special "gift" to Roberts. Would a man fixated on joining an "ultra-posh" country club like, say, an extra $10 million to make his life easier and less stressful?
Obviously, it's doubtful we would ever know. Using electronic funds transfer and offshore accounts, such a gift could be executed surreptitiously, protecting all parties from unwanted publicity.