John Roberts as Mona Lisa

Her enigmatic, knowing smile comes to mind each time I re-read Chief Justice Roberts’s opinion. How much of his opinion reflects his own purely internal legal analysis, how much his concern for perceptions about the institutional authority and legitimacy of the Court? Did he always accept the tax power argument or did his views shift during the course of the opinion-writing process? Did he do any work to persuade Justices Breyer and Kagan to join his opinion on the Medicaid issue, or was that their view from the start? John Roberts is hauntingly, gently smiling out at us from his opinion, and we will be staring back at it for years trying to come to terms with all that the opinion might or might not imply.

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