In the health care case, Roberts produced a twistification of which Marshall would have been proud. He joined the four liberals in holding that the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate was justified by Congress’s taxing power even though he also joined the four conservatives in holding that the mandate was not justified by Congress’s power to regulate interstate commerce.
For bringing the Court back from the partisan abyss, Roberts deserves praise not only from liberals but from all Americans who believe that it’s important for the Court to stand for something larger than politics. On Thursday, Roberts did precisely what he said he would do when he first took office: He placed the bipartisan legitimacy of the Court above his own ideological agenda. Seven years into his Chief Justiceship, the Supreme Court finally became the Roberts Court.