And he should be concerned, considering the history of the institution in the past 200+ years. There has been a recent resurgence of bench activism, with Bush v. Gore and Citizens United providing two highly memorable examples.
Chief Justice Roberts took something to heart that is critically important, IMO. If the populace loses faith in the Court’s decisions, the populace will grow to resent those decisions and actively work to undermine the Court’s authority. What would happen in Americans refused to acknowledge the Court’s legitimacy? 9 hollow shells whose actions mattered not a whit does not bode well for a functioning democracy.
I think Roberts tried to walk the Court back from the step or two with the Obamacare ruling. The other right-wing extremists would have taken the Court even closer to the edge, if not a little bit over it.
Congress might want to learn a little bit of the same lesson for its own good. Both parties seem primarily interested in getting elected and re-elected, not governing. The Democrats have done a slightly better job of governing, but not much – and what kind of bar am I comparing them to? Some of the most extreme bunch of folks to ever control any kind of power in US government. Thus, my statement should not be taken as a ringing endorsement of the Democratic Party or its so-called “accomplishments”.
To the contrary, the Democratic establishment continues to try to play the Democratic base for fools with their fear-mongering of the Republican Teahadists. I want to see real progress made on every critical issue of our time. What I’ve come to realize is the Democratic establishment doesn’t want that any more than the Republican establishment does. Doing actual work would distract us from the scary “others” out there that need to be constantly fought. No, what I and millions of other Americans want are effective political movements – the kind which were squashed in the 1960s with all of the assassinations of the previous movements’ leaders and high-profile supporters. We have seen what the lack of those movements has meant for America: stagnation on multiple different fronts. Sure, I can buy lots of crazy cool crap, but is my life really significantly better than the average Americans’ life at the end of the 2nd third of the 20th century. I don’t think so.
So Roberts took a small step back – good for him. The question is: will it be enough? How many more decisions have to be made; how many more elections have to be held until most Americans not only realize the establishment isn’t working for them, but are willing to actually do something about it?