Chief Justice John Roberts’ Obamacare decision may have increased federal power, not limited it. And he may have undermined the Court’s legitimacy among the American people, not strengthened it. But if Roberts goal was to make the liberal commentariat happy, he succeeded with flying colors. Here is a sampling of leftist laudation for Roberts:

The Washington Post editorial board: “Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. was statesmanlike in choosing to side with four more liberal justices in finding that the law’s most controversial provision, the mandate that individuals obtain health insurance, was a constitutional exercise of Congress’s power “to lay and collect taxes.” … n so doing, he also protected the court itself. It avoided playing the uncomfortable role of overturning a legislative solution four decades in the making, full of choices and tradeoffs among competing approaches and goals.”

The New Yorker‘s Jeffrey Toobin: Since 1937, the Supreme Court has recognized that the Commerce Clause of Article I of the Constitution gives Congress a free hand to address national economic problems. … That the constitutionality of the A.C.A. was even called into question is testimony to how far the center of gravity in the American judiciary has shifted to the right. … For today, it is enough to say that the Chief Justice and the Court did the right thing in one of the most important cases that they will ever decide. That was by no means inevitable or even foreseeable. It is, rather, something to savor.”
The New York Times
Tom Friedman: “It was not surprising to hear liberals extolling the legal creativity and courage of Chief Justice Roberts in finding a way to greenlight Obama’s Affordable Care Act. But there is something deeper reflected in that praise, and it even touched some conservatives. It’s the feeling that it has been so long since a national leader “surprised” us. It’s the feeling that it has been so long since a national leader ripped up the polls and not only acted out of political character but did so truly for the good of the country — as Chief Justice Roberts seemingly did.”

The Washington Post‘s Charles Lane:The Supreme Court’s health-care ruling is welcome because it is a compromise. The justices overcame their differences, defusing political conflict and channeling it into the election where it belongs. … Instead of standing on the legal principles articulated by his conservative brethren, Roberts sacrificed some of those precepts and persuaded some court liberals to reciprocate. … What emerged was less a legal opinion than a plan for national cohesion, on terms remarkably favorable to conservatives.”

The Washington Post‘s Ruth Marcus: I’ve always thought of the Supreme Court as having a kind of internal, institutional gyroscope that keeps it from veering too far out of kilter. … Thursday’s ruling upholding the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act offers welcome, relieving evidence that it is, thanks to Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.

The Washington Post‘s Fred Hiatt: “It would have been unhealthy for the country if five Republican-appointed justices had nullified the Democratic-approved health-care law. Honoring what he called “a general reticence to invalidate the acts of the Nation’s elected leaders,” Roberts led the court away from that fate.”

The Atlantic‘s James Fallows: “In making a majority to sustain the mandate / “tax,” the Chief Justice gave his first substantial demonstration of loyalty-to-institution outweighing loyalty-to-cause. I am willing to believe that this has been his real intention all along; that he was increasingly concerned that his legacy might be a Court whose legitimacy ebbed as its partisan predictability rose; and that he finally found the way to express his true “institutionalist” nature.”

The New Republic‘s Jeffrey Rosen: “For bringing the Court back from the partisan abyss, Roberts deserves praise not only from liberals but from all Americans who believe that it’s important for the Court to stand for something larger than politics.”