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Chief Justice John Roberts recasts his legacy with health care decision

Published: Thursday, July 2 2015 8:52 p.m. MDT

In this Jan. 27, 2010 file photo, President Barack Obama greets Chief Justice John Roberts before he delivered his State of the Union Address on Capitol Hill in Washington. Breaking with the court's other conservative justices, Roberts announced the judgment that allows the law to go forward with its aim of covering more than 30 million uninsured Americans. Roberts explained at length the court's view of the mandate as a valid exercise of Congress' authority to In this Jan. 27, 2010 file photo, President Barack Obama greets Chief Justice John Roberts before he delivered his State of the Union Address on Capitol Hill in Washington. Breaking with the court's other conservative justices, Roberts announced the judgment that allows the law to go forward with its aim of covering more than 30 million uninsured Americans. Roberts explained at length the court's view of the mandate as a valid exercise of Congress' authority to "lay and collect taxes." The administration estimates that roughly 4 million people will pay the penalty rather than buy insurance. (Charles Dharapak, File, Associated Press)

Our take: Chief Justice John Roberts voted for the health care ruling, which shocked conservatives who thought they could rely on him to help sink Obama’s signature legislative accomplishment.

Chief Justice John Roberts promised not to pitch or bat, but he sure threw a curve ball Thursday.

By voting to uphold President Barack Obama’s health care law, Roberts shocked conservatives who thought they could rely on him to help sink Obama’s signature legislative accomplishment.

Instead, Roberts’ unexpected 59-page opinion will go down as his most significant, legacy-defining act since he joined the court in 2005 — and history ultimately could record it as the most consequential opinion of his tenure as chief justice.

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