Chief Justice John Roberts and the right: Six steps toward reconciliation

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“Where’s the man who said unlimited corporate money was speech?” Mr. Colbert said. “Where’s the man who voted against equal pay for women? I don’t even know who you are anymore.”

A satirical send-up of an actual conservative, Mr. Colbert nevertheless got one thing exactly right: the gnawing, nagging sentiment that Chief Justice Roberts isn’t the judicial conservative Red America thought he was, the man who once recalled Ronald Reagan’s first inaugural address by stating “I felt he was speaking to me.”

According to Ms. Utay, similar feelings are commonplace among people dealing with romantic betrayal.

“With Roberts, this steady, trustworthy guy all of the sudden stepped out and became the swing vote,” she said. “He literally became a swinger.

“So now it’s like, ‘Who is he? The guy who is like an old sweater? Or is he this new, bold, daring, thrill-seeking guy?’ You have to decide: Is this who he is? Or is this ruling an aberration?”

Conservatives have theories, mostly about the chief justice being a weak-willed milksop, alternately cowed by: (a) the liberal commentariat, swaying antipathetic conservative thinkers since never; (b) a pre-ruling speech by Vermont Democrat Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, which probably reached dozens of C-SPAN viewers; (c ) Mr. Obama’s 2010 State of the Union finger-wag over the Citizens United decision.

Donald Trump even speculated that Chief Justice Roberts “wanted to be loved by the Washington establishment.”

“When a romantic betrayal has just occurred, many people start imagining what the betrayal sex was like,” Ms. Masini said. “They wonder if the other person was better in bed or better endowed. The unknown looms large and scary.”

Writing for Reason magazine’s website, Damon W. Root offered a different take: Chief Justice Roberts is the same kind of justice he always has been, a man practicing the time-honored conservative philosophy of judicial restraint, in which judges attempt to avoid legislating from the bench.

In declaring Obamacare’s individual mandate a tax — and therefore constitutional — Chief Justice Roberts noted that he was “granting the Act the full measure of deference owed to federal statutes” and also wrote that “it is not our job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices.”

Moreover, many commentators and legal scholars noted that Mr. Roberts‘ concurrent rejection of the Commerce Clause as the basis of government regulation may act as a kind of rope-a-dope, having the long-term effect of limiting the size and scope of federal power — the sin qua non of modern conservatism.

For smarting conservatives and romantic partners alike, relationship expert Wendy Walsh said, breaches of trust can provide opportunity.

“If you have a relationship where both partners live like happy roommates, you’re never really going to grow intimate,” said Ms. Walsh, author of the upcoming book “The 30-Day Love Detox: Cleanse Yourself of Bad Boys, Cheaters and Commitment-Phobes.” “The road to closeness is paved by ruptures, followed by repairs.

“This is a unique moment to get to know your partner better, use empathy and compassion to say, ‘Wow, what did I miss?’ You need to intellectually process what your partner is going through. You may not agree with or even like their motivations. But you will have a deeper understanding.”

5. Embrace some newfound spiciness

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