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Roberts delivered a delight today.
Not only did he pull out a justification for the mandate, he did it in a way that still slams the overreach of the Commerce Clause, provides insight that it's fungible as a tax, and aligns with liberals for the first time in.... never.
It's tickling in one sense to see him acting as a real conservative - the mandate *was* an overreach for Commerce - by breathing, the government can make you buy *anything*?
Second, the mandate's a freeloader tax in essence - if you haven't paid, you need to. Certainly there's an issue with Norquist fans, that it's much better politically to label something a contribution to the devil than a tax - we know which one has more Likes on Facebook. And it may not be ideal for Democrats to crow about - "greatest regressive tax yet, Millions of poor people insuranced-up despite their druthers"
Third, is Roberts about to become a Sandra O'Connor? Teaming up with liberals to create a coalition? But he won't be interested in the state of peers on the way.
Is Roberts ready to shift focus on rulings in general? Would alter the compromise & conditions drastically. We'll stick to justice and opine, but intriguing if Roberts is offering the Fifth Man, ability to talk with Democratic actors, find useful interplay, rein in overreach as much as retaining country club rights for all.
We'll see - could spare us a lot of fretting unnecessarily re: SCOTUS polarization. Has John Roberts simply had enough?