A friend with professional interest in health care policy and a political stance somewhat to the right of the RBC center of gravity – and who predicted that the Supreme Court would rule the ACA constitutional – writes:
Although my prediction that Roberts would vote to uphold proved correct, he outsmarted me. It’s so obvious now in retrospect, but it didn’t occur to me that he would uphold the individual mandate on taxation grounds while rejecting the standard interstate commerce justification. Brilliant. He managed to support the health care policy outcome he wanted (strengthening private insurance coverage), enhance his own reputation, and avoid criticism of the court without giving ground on constitutional interpretation.
Roberts understands that healthcare is different from broccoli. If you read his decision from an esoteric rather than exoteric perspective, I think you’ll hear him saying, “Of course the decision to go uninsured has commercial effects that are broad enough to justify Congressional regulation. But I’m not confident I can accept that argument in this case without setting a precedent that would be used to try expand Congressional authority in ways I want to avoid.”