During oral arguments in Jennings v. Rodriguez, Chief Justice Roberts criticized the Ninth Circuit’s application of the constitutional avoidance doctrine. As best as I can tell, he exhibited not even the slightest sense of irony.
First, Roberts noted that the avoidance doctrine “looks an awful lot like drafting a statute.” Courts, the Chief reminds us, exist to “read the statute,” but they “can’t just write a different statute because we think it would be more administrable.”
For a competing perspective, see the Chief Justice’s opinions in NFIB v. Sebelius with respect to the individual mandate and the Medicaid expansion.
Justice Alito, perhaps needling his colleague, offered this definition of “constitutional avoidance,” premised on the court thinking it doesn’t “have the guts to say [a statute] is unconstitutional.”
Later in the argument, the Chief put his imprimatur on jurisprudential guts.
Either the Chief is trolling here–if so, well done JGR–or he lacks any sense of self-awareness.