This morning, I fully expected the Supreme Court to throw out the individual mandate and uphold the remainder of the Federal health insurance reform act. Turned out I was totally wrong and I also have a whole new level of respect for Chief Justice John Roberts.
The introduction to the 193-page opinion in NFIB v. Sebelius is an interesting mix of constitutional and political theory. I cannot remember the last time I remember an opinion that leads off with six pages of discussions about Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist Papers, Chief Justice John Marshall, and early Supreme Court cases such as McCullough v. Maryland.
What is clear to me is that Chief Justice John Roberts took this moment to write this opinion not only due to the policy implications of healthcare reform, but (1) because of his concern that this case had the potential to dangerously blur the lines between the political and judicial branches of our government (like Bush v. Gore) (2) this case presented questions that go to some very fundamental powers of the federal government, and (3) this case also presented fundamental questions about the interplay between federal and state government. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity make a mark as a jurist in an historical way.