Chief Justice John Roberts's opinion upholding the individual mandate in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has been hailed as an act of judicial statesmanship that saved the Supreme Court from serious criticism as a partisan, political institution. This article argues that any such praise should be tempered by an understanding of just how far outside mainstream legal understandings the chief justice's opinion strayed when considering constitutional issues that were unnecessary to the decision of the case and, in one instance, not ripe for judicial review. Except in its narrow result upholding the mandate, the chief justice's opinion is heedless of long-standing precedent, aggressive in creating novel grounds for judicial second-guessing of legislative judgments, cavalier with factual assertions, and disrespectful of the position of other governmental institutions.

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