This one’s a 10.0 on the Roberts anxiety meter. It’s widely understood (well, assumed) that the chief frets over the Court being seen as a collection of predictable partisan hacks. That fear *may* have informed his alleged decision to switch his vote from striking down ObamaCare when that case was before him in 2012 to upholding the law on the dubious theory that the individual mandate is actually a lawful tax for constitutional purposes. He didn’t want the public to see a five-vote conservative majority blow up Obama’s signature legislation, knowing how that would lend itself to the suspicion that the justices are voting based on politics, not law. So he switched.
Or so the theory goes.
If the Court takes this new appeal from Trump, he’ll have another legal question to settle that’s been electrified by partisan interest. Except this time the case involves a president who famously craves loyalty from his allies and who’s taken to dismissing unfavorable rulings in federal court as the product of “Obama judges,” a term which Roberts has criticized publicly. If he ends up as the fifth vote to bar prosecutors in New York from obtaining Trump’s tax returns as part of an investigation into possible campaign finance violations, the left will destroy him as a GOP hack after all, a coward who was intimidated by Trump into abetting his effort to obstruct justice.