Chief Justice John Roberts made history in a way that he had to realize would happen, when he broke with the conservative wing of the Court, shocking conservatives and cheering liberals and progressives on the Affordable Care Act, known to its critics as “ObamaCare”.
The question is whether this is a one time aberration, or a beginning of a reconsideration of the philosophy that will govern the future decisions of Chief Justice Roberts.
Has Roberts had an “epiphany”, or did he do this for his own reputation and that of the Court as an institution?
Is Roberts ready to continue to antagonize Associate Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito, two of whom will be likely staying on the Supreme Court for a long period of years, maybe as long as he will?
Does Roberts have a sense of history, and wants to be leagued with other great Chief Justices?
Certainly, seeing the harsh, bitter reaction of many conservative talk show hosts, Republicans and others of the right wing in our politics, might give Roberts pause, and possibly make him reluctant to go against the tide again.
A sign that he will not give in to the attacks would be to push another Citizens United case to be considered by the Court, and this time, to take the proper side for the people of America against the corporations and their power, but who can say that will happen?
In any case, Roberts at least has the potential, if he has the courage and principles to do so, to go down in history as in the tradition of Chief Justices John Marshall (1801-1835), Charles Evans Hughes (1930-1941), and Earl Warren (1953-1969)!
He also has the potential to go down as an “also ran’! It is all up to him, and him alone!