But today, Chief Justice Roberts has done much to repair the enormous damage done to the Court’s reputation by Bush v. Gore and exacerbated by Citizens United. The Supreme Court’s precedents clearly establish that the individual mandate, which doesn’t literally force anyone to purchase health insurance, but simply adjusts the income-tax liability of those who don’t, can be sustained as an exercise of Congress’s indisputably broad power to impose taxes. By faithfully applying those precedents—regardless of whatever personal distaste he may have had for the law he upheld—the Chief Justice helped restore Americans’ confidence in the political neutrality of their highest court.
That is no small achievement. It is in some ways comparable to what our greatest Chief Justice, John Marshall, achieved in his landmark 19th-century rulings in Marbury v. Madison and McCulloch v. Maryland. Marbury established the power of the Supreme Court to sit in judgment on the constitutionality of the actions of the other political branches, and McCulloch established the breadth of the political authority entrusted to those branches by the provisions of the Constitution.