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Many years ago, a leading scholar sat down to pen a letter and dated it “Year 1 of American Independence.” The date was not July 4, 1776; it was Feb. 1, 1865, the day after congressional passage of the 13th Amendment.
By voting the way he did in King and writing the opinion he did, Chief Justice Roberts did exactly what any responsible and fair judge should have done. But his decision in this year’s health care case still deserves a great deal of praise—and much, much more than his decision in the last one.
While there are many people who deserve credit for the court’s historic decision in Obergefell, there’s one more who should go on the list: President Barack Obama. He deserves credit not just for the powerful support his administration provided in Obergefell itself, but also for his decision not to defend DOMA four years earlier. It’s a helpful reminder of the power of the presidency, and how it can play out in unexpected ways.