John Roberts, Lawmaker

by Ramesh Ponnuru

My new Bloomberg View column criticizes the Chief Justice’s decision.

Roberts appeals to the idea that a court should read an ambiguous law in a way that renders it compatible with the Constitution. But he hasn’t read the law in this case so much as rewritten it. He claims that it leaves people free to make the “lawful choice” to forgo health insurance. In effect, then, he has ruled that the mandate isn’t a mandate at all.

I get a little tougher toward the end.

To put my disappointment in perspective: The Court has improved commerce-clause doctrine, and there’s nothing it did with respect to Obamacare that cannot be undone through normal politics. (In this respect the decision is better than one based on a misreading of the Constitution.) To put perspective in perspective, though: It sure seems to me that Roberts did the wrong thing.

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