WHY ROBERTS DID IT
BY CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER
It’s the judiciary’s Nixon-to-China: Chief Justice John Roberts joins the liberal wing of the Supreme Court and upholds the constitutionality of Obamacare. ... As a conservative, he is as appalled as his conservative colleagues by the administration’s central argument that Obamacare’s individual mandate is a proper exercise of its authority to regulate commerce. ... But he lives in uneasy coexistence with Roberts, custodian of the court, acutely aware that the judiciary’s arrogation of power has eroded the esteem in which it was once held. ... How to reconcile the two imperatives — one philosophical and the other institutional? Assign yourself the task of writing the majority opinion. Find the ultimate finesse that manages to uphold the law, but only on the most narrow of grounds — interpreting the individual mandate as merely a tax, something generally within the power of Congress.
A MUDDLED POLITICAL RESPONSE FROM THE RIGHT
NEW YORK TIMES
Because the Supreme Court did not repeal the law, Mr. Romney vowed to do so himself on his first day as president, a vow that will be impossible to fulfill, not just on his first day, but ever if he cannot round up 60 votes in the Senate. Otherwise the heath care law will stay on the books, and as much as he may try to defund it or ignore it, he will have taken an oath to uphold it. Even if he should succeed in a repeal, he has provided very little information on the kind of law he would put in its place. ...The indifference of voters to Mr. Romney’s prior support for health reform when he was governor of Massachusetts won’t last if he refuses to produce a serious plan of his own.
A PYRRHIC VICTORY
BY NEAL K. KATYAL
NEW YORK TIMES
There was a subtle loser...and that is the federal government. By opening new avenues for the courts to rewrite the law, the federal government may have won the battle but lost the war. ...there is a danger here too: that courts are given the power to rewrite legislation altogether, and leave legislation in place (like health care) in a form that Congress might never have approved and that would be difficult to ever repeal. ...Time will tell whether today’s decision foreshadows things to come. But one thing is apparent: Americans are growing increasingly comfortable, if not always happy, with the idea of nine men and women in Washington handing down rulings that remove decisions from the legislative process or even rewrite legislation altogether.
MODESTY AND AUDACITY
BY DAVID BROOKS
NEW YORK TIMES
Washington is full of arrogant people who grab power whenever they get the chance. But there is at least one modest minimalist in town, and that’s John Roberts Jr. In his remarkable health care opinion Thursday, the chief justice of the Supreme Court restrained the power of his own institution. He decided not to use judicial power to overrule the democratic process. He decided not to provoke a potential institutional crisis. Granted, he had to imagine a law slightly different than the one that was passed in order to get the result he wanted, but Roberts’s decision still represents a moment of, if I can say so, Burkean minimalism and self-control.
CONSERVATIVES' CONSOLATION PRIZE
BY GEORGE F. WILL
Conservatives won a substantial victory Thursday. The physics of American politics — actions provoking reactions — continues to move the crucial debate, about the nature of the American regime, toward conservatism. ... By persuading the court to reject a Commerce Clause rationale for a president’s signature act, the conservative legal insurgency against Obamacare has won a huge victory for the long haul. This victory will help revive a venerable tradition of America’s political culture, that of viewing congressional actions with a skeptical constitutional squint, searching for congruence with the Constitution’s architecture of enumerated powers. ... Any democracy, even one with a written and revered constitution, ultimately rests on public opinion, which is shiftable sand. Conservatives understand the patience requisite for the politics of democracy — the politics of persuasion.
A RULING THAT'S GOOD FOR THE COUNTRY
The Supreme Court's 5 to 4 decision upholding the core of the Affordable Care Act is good news for the court and the country. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. was statesmanlike in choosing to side with four more liberal justices in finding that the law’s most controversial provision, the mandate that individuals obtain health insurance, was a constitutional exercise of Congress’s power “to lay and collect taxes.” ... In so doing, he also protected the court itself. It avoided playing the uncomfortable role of overturning a legislative solution four decades in the making, full of choices and tradeoffs among competing approaches and goals.