Associate Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas

Court watchers are buzzing about a CBS News report that Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts changed his vote on whether to strike down the individual mandate, or even the entire Affordable Care Act. Now, the question turns to who leaked that information to reporter Jan Crawford.

ThinkProgress reports that a New York Times follow-up story strongly implies that Clarence Thomas, who has expressed admiration for Crawford (who has defended him and his wife from critics in the past) is the source of the leaks about Roberts. From the Times story:

[T]he possibility that conservatives had victory within reach only to lose it seemed to infuriate some of them. The CBS News report, attributed to two sources with “specific knowledge of the deliberations,” appeared to give voice to the frustrations of people associated with the court’s conservative wing. It was written by Jan Crawford, whose 2007 book, “Supreme Conflict: The Inside Story of the Struggle for Control of the United States Supreme Court,” was warmly received by conservatives.

In a 2009 interview on C-Span, Justice Thomas singled her out as a favorite reporter. “There are wonderful people out here who do a good job — do a fantastic job — like Jan Greenburg,” Justice Thomas said, referring to Ms. Crawford by her married name at the time.

Leaks from the Supreme Court are unprecedented, and in this case, may reflect the bitterness that Roberts’ decision to uphold the healthcare mandate created on the conservative side of the court.

A source with knowledge of the deliberations confirms to theGrio that Roberts, possibly as late as mid-June, was prepared to strike down the individual mandate, siding with his fellow conservative justices, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Libertarian-leaning Justice Anthony Kennedy. The source also confirms other elements of Crawford’s story — namely that intense pressure was being placed on Roberts by the conservatives to strike down the entire law.

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