By Joan Biskupic, CNN
Updated 6:55 PM ET, Thu June 18, 2020
(CNN)Chief Justice John Roberts saved Obamacare in 2012 — a move forever earning him the wrath of many Republicans — and on Thursday he preserved an Obama-era program that protects young immigrants who came to the US without proper papers, a direct rebuke to President Donald Trump.
Both times, Roberts joined with the court’s four liberals, as he did last year when he cast the crucial fifth vote to block a citizenship question on the 2020 census — another insult to the President.
“Do you get the impression that the Supreme Court doesn’t like me?” Trump tweeted.
The conspicuous moves by a generally reliable conservative reveal a chief justice trying to defuse disputes that bring the nation’s high court into tension with the US president.
They also reflect a pattern distinct to Roberts, who has shown in some rulings a pragmatic and political understanding of polarized America.
Roberts, who presided over Trump’s impeachment trial and acquittal earlier this year, has long demonstrated an interest in shielding the integrity of the judiciary and his own reputation. Throughout Thursday’s decision in the highly charged immigration dispute, his cool, lawyerly language focused on procedural matters belied the emotional stakes for nearly 700,000 people.
The chief justice wants officials, especially those in this Trump administration, to play by the rules.