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ABC Fawns Over 'Umpire' Roberts Upholding Mandate: 'Discretion Is the Better Part of Valor'

In live coverage right after the Supreme Court upheld ObamaCare, ABC's anchors and reporters praised Chief Justice John Roberts for siding with the liberals. George Stephanopoulos insisted that the judge proved he really was an "umpire."

Barely restraining himself, Terry Moran fawned, "Sometimes discretion is the better part of valor for the court. Sometimes letting the politics of the thing play out preserves its authority for the next big case so that you don't have half of America hating them." (Doesn't half of America hate the court now?) [MP3 audio below.]

Stephanopoulos theorized, "...When he was going for his confirmation hearings, [Roberts] did call himself an umpire, not an activist. And that's one of the things we're seeing today." So, after siding with the left, Roberts is now an umpire and not an activist?

Moran happily explained why Roberts made such a ruling: "One, he's a very close reader of the law. Two, he cares about the court. Is it really a good idea for the court to jump in the middle of an election year and throw out the President's leading domestic achievement?"

He added, "That challenges the legitimacy of the court in some people's minds and Roberts may have been mindful of that."

A transcript of the exchange be found below:

10:21 EDT
 
DIANE SAWYER: As Jake said Chief Justice John Roberts is really instrumental. He is at the center of this and he likes to refer to himself, here is a quote, as a "the umpire" of confrontations. What did we learn about him and this Supreme Court today?

TERRY MORAN: That's a great question, Diane. Chief Justice John Robert. It's the biggest opinion, the biggest moment so far in his chief justiceship. He saved, with this opinion, the Obama health care law. He saved it. And there may be a couple of motivations for that. One, he's a very close reader of the law. Two, he cares about the court. Is it really a good idea for the court to jump in in the middle of an election year and throw out the President's leading domestic achievement? That challenges the legitimacy of the court in some people's minds and Roberts may have been mindful of that. The other thing to remember is he was a lawyer for the Justice Department for many years and so has a deep sense of the legitimate powers of the federal government. And in this opinion, what he said was, the health care law can be sustained if we look at it in a certain way. Not as a mandate, not as a command that every American has to buy health insurance, but as a legitimate tax on those who choose not to.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And, Terry, that's what's so interesting about it. It looked like chief justice was looking for a way to validate it even though that wasn't the major argument presented.

MORAN: Absolutely. It wasn't the major argument and you're absolutely right. He was looking for a way not to put the Supreme Court in the middle of an election season debate over the legitimacy of the Obama health care plan. Sometimes discretion is the better part of valor for the court. Sometimes letting the politics of the thing play out preserves its authority for the next big case so that you don't have half of America hating them.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And, Diane, as you pointed out, when he was going for his confirmation hearings, he did call himself an umpire, not an activist. And that's one of the things we're seeing today.

DIANE SAWYER: That is right.

-- Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.