IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Matthews: Chief Justice Roberts acted with 'high morality' today

Let me finish tonight with Mr. Chief Justice John Roberts.

Let me finish tonight with Mr. Chief Justice John Roberts.  

What I treasure in public affairs — in human existence — is the unpredicted, those moments when a person does something that staggers the rest of us, that is so phenomenal it blows us away.

John Roberts has just performed one of those acts. He did what judges are up there to do. He was "judicious," looking at the Obama health care act from all angles, at how from each perspective does or does not pass muster with the Constitution. He did so, as he said today,by  looking for that angle from which the Obama measure could be ruled to square with the country's organizing document. He admitted to looking 'til he found it.

So the big question: What pushed him? What made him look 'til he found the route for the Obama health care act to constitutional acceptability? What was it that encouraged him, John Roberts, to go beyond the interstate commerce clause and find the taxing authority, the provision he believed gave Obama's act its okay by the constitution?

My hunch, knowing Justice Roberts and his wife just a bit, is that his motive was high morality. He wanted to do good and went looking for a way to do it consistent with his oath to respect the Constitution. He wanted to protect both. That's the heart of it: the one shot this country has at looking to the welfare of all our people, and the one way it could square with a constitutionally-limited government.

There is in our church a commitment to social justice. It runs deep and wide — crossing these sad divides between right and left — and it holds to the central belief shared by so many religions to look out for our brothers and sisters on this earth. It hues against the notion of "every man for himself" and steers us all toward something finer, something of obligation in our lives to our fellow mankind.

It is worthy, it is good, and today the highest court in our country agreed with it, saying that when it comes to health and health care, we Americans have no obstacle to doing what is right.

Let's all put our heads on the pillow tonight saying this was a good day for our country, a good day to have lived and to have known we live in a good country — one that is trying harder each generation to be better.