I wasn’t that surprised by the ACA ruling as the only reasonable prediction I heard was yesterday from Professor Laurence Tribe on Hardball, predicting that Roberts would write an opinion that the “mandate” isn’t really a mandate, but a choice between buying a thing or paying a tax. (Something Ezra Klein and others have been pointing out for months.)
That John Roberts was the lone conservative to vote to uphold the ACA mandate (which we should probably now refer to as the ACA insurance tax incentive scheme, because if we had, this never even would have been a problem) makes a certain sense to me. Because if the Supreme Court had struck down the law, the commentary that followed would have called The Roberts Court the most partisan in a hundred years.
He would have owned that decision more than any other justice. As chief justice, his name would be there, possibly in infamy, as having tarnished the court, and would have had to live with it in a way personally the others would not.
It’s naive to think that the justices have no ego or legacy to think of.
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