(The Washington Post) – President Obama and Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. got off to a rough start from the very beginning, when they tripped over each other’s words during a key line in the oath at Obama’s first inauguration.
Both Harvard Law School graduates, they occupy nearly opposite ends of the ideological spectrum. Obama, as a senator, had voted against Roberts’s confirmation to the court, saying the judge lacked sufficient empathy for the powerless and could not be counted on to vote the right way in the most important cases.
But in Thursday’s Supreme Court decision upholding federal subsidies offered under the Affordable Care Act, Roberts again helped sustain the president’s policy legacy in a way that few could have anticipated when Obama took office. In voting with the majority and writing the opinion, the chief justice has ensured that the legacies of both the Obama presidency and the Roberts court are forever intertwined.
Roberts on Thursday disappointed conservatives who hoped he would atone for 2012, when he saved Obamacare from an earlier constitutional challenge by providing the decisive vote. Instead, he doubled down, his tone deferential to an effort of the president and Congress that “grew out of a long history of failed health insurance reform.”