In practical terms, Roberts helped enshrine one of the most sweeping laws ever enacted, which will affect Americans in the most personal of ways. The law increases spending by $1.7 trillion over the next decade and hikes taxes by $1 trillion. It imposes a raft of new regulations on businesses and requires individuals to purchase government-approved insurance policies. And in the long run, it expedites the day when America will become indistinguishable from a European-style welfare state.
But beyond the policy implications pertaining to this particular law, Roberts’ decision to uphold the constitutionality of the law’s individual mandate, to borrow a phrase from Justice Anthony Kennedy, fundamentally changes the relationship between the individual and the federal government.