Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. delivered more than a historic ruling with his opinion upholding the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. Deliberately or not, he sent a message to politicians about the importance of protecting the vitality and reputation of public institutions.
That’s a message badly needed in Washington and nowhere more so than in the Capitol building that sits across the broad lawn from the Supreme Court. Congress is an institution designed to represent the people. It has become a body where too often its members act as if they represent only Republicans or only Democrats. No wonder so many Americans hold it in such low regard.
It is useful to remember that, in the run-up to the health-care ruling, one strong subtext of discussion and analysis was what a decision striking down President Obama’s health-care law would do to the court itself. Would the court, under those circumstances, be vulnerable to the charge that it had become as politicized as the other branches of government?