Speaking for John Roberts

The law was clear.  But so was the politics. In the spring of 2012, as he reflected on his decision in NFIB v. Sibelius, the chief justice in the end chose to protect the Court rather than uphold the law. But in allowing ObamaCare to take effect, he fostered the turn in the political tide that occurred in October of 2013, with its actual implementation. This was an inflection point in our politics. For a generation, it will undermine the proponents of big government. I believe he knew exactly what he was doing. I believe he's conservative to his bones, and is the smartest man in public life today.

The Supreme Court is, by far, the weakest of the branches. It is an unelected body in a democratic republic. It can issue opinions, but cannot enforce them. Most Americans really don't understand what it does, and what it's supposed to do. It relies on the other branches for its funding. Every chief justice has a special and unique obligation to defend the Court as an institution. John Roberts upheld ObamaCare under duress.

He was thinking back to the fight between the Court and Roosevelt in the 30s. Heroically -- and correctly -- the Court gutted the New Deal, enraging Roosevelt.  He went to war with the Court, using all the many weapons at his disposal. The Court was unable to withstand these assaults, and gave ground. Roosevelt wasn't satisfied, and his 1937 Court packing scheme was the most serious attack on the Court's independence in our history. Only the conservatism, in the best sense of the word, of Southern Democratic senators stopped him.

Obama and the Democrats scored a huge win in 2008. They put all their political capital into one bill: ObamaCare. If the Court overturned ObamaCare, it would be, in a sense, overturning the legitimate, democratic outcome of the 2008 election, as the Democrats still claim it did in 2000. That is the last thing a Court wants to do. Especially if there was an alternative, and there was. Roberts spelled it out for us. Elect people to repeal it. Which we're going to do.

Here is why I think Roberts is so smart. He understood Obamacare not just from a legal perspective, but from a political and policy perspective as well. He took the time to learn enough about the law to know how it would actually work, in practice. It wasn't just bad law, constitutionally. It was bad law. A ridiculously bad law. A law that not only wouldn't work, but one which would create havoc in the lives of millions of Americans. A law specifically designed, but not honestly described, as an enormous wealth transfer from the young and healthy to the old and sick. A law that had been sold to the American people by an outright lie: if you like your doctor and insurance, you can keep them. A law that, once implemented, would create an enormous political backlash.

He understood that ObamaCare, if he allowed it to go in effect, would be the high-water mark of the hundred year-long Progressive tide. The federal government takeover the health care industry, a sixth of the economy, has been the supreme goal for the last 75 years. They would finally get what they wanted. The dog caught the car. And this summit of their achievement, out there for all to see, ObamaCare, would be an unmitigated disaster. The whole narrative of benign and effective federal government would be exposed as a fraud. But if he overturned the law, this exposure would have been prevented, and the tide-turning moment would have been lost.

The vindication of John Roberts will arrive on November 8, 2016.

Franklin famously described the Constitution as a republic, if you can keep it. Roberts knows that the ultimate protector of our liberties is not the Court, but ourselves.

The ball's in our court.  It's up to us.

Fritz Pettyjohn is a former Alaska Legislator and Co-chairman of the Balanced Budget Amendment Task Force.  He blogs at ReaganProject.com

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