A Re-Examination of Roberts’s Legacy?

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. surprised many on Thursday by providing the crucial fifth vote for upholding President Obama’s health care law. To those on the left who viewed him as an ideologue eager to pull the court rightward in a political fashion, this will now begin a re-examination of his style and legacy as it will for those on the right who considered the law unconstitutional and relied on him to make that point.

Many scholars have said that Chief Justice Roberts sought to balance his own conservatism with his desire to build faith in the law and the nation’s legal institutions. But it was still striking to hear Mr. Roberts, who arrived on the court in 2005 appointed by George W. Bush, announce the upholding of the central legislative pillar of the Obama administration. He did arrive on the bench asserting the desire to restore the court’s reputation and reduce partisan rhetoric. But he was seen by many, at least on the left, as a right-winger more devoted to conservative politics than the purity of the law. That could change....

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