Roberts restored court's credibility
There are a lot of arguments going on over Thursday’s Supreme Court decision upholding the Affordable Health Care Act. No matter what your thoughts are on the bill’s merits, there is one thing about the 5-4 decision that should make everybody happy.
The fact that Chief Justice John Roberts voted in favor of the law means the system still might actually work.
Roberts, long seen as a staunch conservative justice appointed by George W. Bush, joined the "liberal block" on the bench in the majority. He put aside his own personal politics and ruled according to how he interpreted the law, even when it was a law that he may have personally disapproved of.
That’s exactly what a judge is supposed to do.
As our nation gets more politicized and polarized, the one thing that can hold things together is an impartial court. Like the umpires of a baseball game, they are expected to make fair calls based on the rules of the game, not their own likes and dislikes.
Unfortunately, politics is beginning to infect this last stronghold. People rail against "activist judges," which now refers to any judge who issues a ruling that goes against your own personal beliefs. The fact that most decisions that come down from the high court are an easily predictable 5-4 conservative/liberal split gives the cynical observer a lot of ammunition.
But Chief Justice Roberts disproved that last week, and by doing so, upheld the integrity of the Supreme Court. It would have been very easy for him to go along with his conservative benchmates, but he stuck to his own reading of the law and gave the ruling he thought was right.
And that’s exactly what our democracy needs.