One of the low points of the online conspiracy fever dreams that trailed Barack Obama’s presidency came in April 2014, when a gaggle of specious blogs spread the “story” that Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts had set up Obama’s removal from office.
Many of the blogs that initially pushed the claim — with names like “theuspatriot” and “mrconservative” — no longer function. But their online flotsam can still be found in some corners of the internet.
The post read in part:
According to recent reports, Chief Justice John Roberts might have signed off on Interpol to have Obama impeached on the grounds of multiple counts of treason.
The charges against our current President range from declaring war without the consent of Congress, to making several Executive Orders on gun control, to unilateral decisions regarding immigration, and many more.
From there, the post cites an unidentified, unsourced “leaked document” listing a litany of alleged crimes Obama committed to warrant arrest, including (of course) violations of the Second Amendment via “23 executive orders on gun control”:
As you might imagine, just the phrase “Chief Justice John Roberts might have signed off on Interpol” barely reaches the point of coherence, much less accuracy. For example, INTERPOL itself is not a stand-alone police force; it is an agency with participation from nearly 200 countries. As its website states:
In each country, an INTERPOL National Central Bureau (NCB) provides the central point of contact for the General Secretariat and other NCBs. An NCB is run by national police officials and usually sits in the government ministry responsible for policing.
The General Assembly is our governing body and it brings all countries together once a year to take decisions.
While the U.S. is part of INTERPOL, the Justice Department does note that it does not automatically follow INTERPOL’s advisories regarding potential suspects, or “notices” as they’re called:
Once published by INTERPOL, each member country determines what effect to give a Notice within its jurisdiction according to its national law and practice. The United States does not consider a Red Notice alone to be a sufficient basis for the arrest of a subject because it does not meet the requirements for arrest under the 4th Amendment to the Constitution. Instead, the United States treats a foreign-issued Red Notice only as a formalized request by the issuing law enforcement authority to “be on the look-out” for the fugitive in question, and to advise if they are located.
While most of the original posts circulating the bizarre claim have been taken down, some iterations also linger on as screengrabs and photographs:
Roberts himself was belittled as a “traitor” in right-wing circles during Obama’s presidency, notably for being part of the majority in rulings from the high court preserving the American Care Act (a.k.a. “Obamacare”) in both 2012 and 2015.
In July 2022, CNN reported that Roberts had been lobbying conservative justices to preserve the federal right to an abortion in Dobbs v. Jackson, only to be stymied when the decision was leaked a month earlier. An investigation into the leak, which Roberts called a “betrayal of the confidences of the Court,” has yet to identify the source.
Update 7/27/2022, 12:10 a.m. PST: This article has been revamped and updated. You can review the original here. — ag