What lies behind Chief Justice Roberts’ decision to uphold the Obamacare mandate?
AT THE END OF ROBERTS’S first term as chief justice in July 2006, I interviewed him in his chambers at the Supreme Court. Our conversation, which I wrote about in an article for The Atlantic, was wide-ranging, but Roberts returned repeatedly to one theme: his desire to restore the bipartisan legitimacy of the Supreme Court.
In Roberts’s view, the Court was losing respect with the public because it issued too many rulings along partisan lines. “I do think the rule of law is threatened by a steady term-after-term focus on five–four decisions,” he said. “I think the Court is also ripe for a similar refocus on functioning as an institution,” he told me, “because if it doesn’t, it’s going to lose its credibility.”
Roberts said he had been inspired by the example of his greatest predecessor, John Marshall. “He could easily have got on the Court and said, ‘I’m the last hope of the Federalists: We’re out of Congress, we’re out of the White House, and I’m going to pursue that agenda here,’” he said. “But instead he said, ‘No, this is my home now, this is the Court, and we’re going to operate as a Court, and that’s important to me.’”
— Jeffrey Rosen, “Big Chief”