Thus, they often cross the line from being smart and intelligent, and from their real area of expertise into being "clever" for the sake of being thought of as ingenious.
Unfortunately, cleverness often comes at the expense of clarity, and the one main thing that people want and should expect from the courts, judges and "the law" in general is clarity.
What we have gotten from Chief Justice John Roberts was anything but clarity. In fact, with his "clever" decision, supposedly trying to show that the court is apolitical, he has single-handedly rewritten the un-Affordable Care Act from ObamaCareMandate into ObamaCareTax in such a way that all parties can argue and define what it means any way it fits them for any given purpose; he has rewritten the Constitution by granting the power to "tax" the non-activity (apparently creating entirely new and separate category of federal "taxation" which is different from the now "usual" income, sales and excise taxes - a "behavior tax"?); he has given huge new authority and powers to the Congress, the President and his bureaucracy and to the courts to "interpret" any law any which way they desire, with impunity, by abdicating the Supreme Court's responsibility of defending the citizens' freedoms and the purse by curtailing the natural tendency of the federal government to self-expand at the expense of citizenry.
Instead, like King Solomon, John Roberts "cleverly" decided to cut the political "baby" in half, and what he gave us was a stupefyingly discombobulating and muddled decision which will be abused as the precedent and fought over for decades - in other words, the exact opposite of clarity.
Telling the people that the Court can't save them from electing the "bad" government - in effect, blaming the people for "electing the government they deserve" - may have been his "clever" unofficial verdict on the merits or consequences of ObamaCare bill, but his decision to give it justification by rewriting it so it could "comply with Constitution" was contrary to the very ideal of Constitutional restraint on powers of the government.
U.S. citizens may have to live with Roberts' mucked up decision for a long time, his reputation will be mired in it forever.
I disagree with you here. In part because the story you allude to was actually a case of such clarity you previously mentioned: Solomon knew the real mother would show concern for the baby's well-being and the other would not, IOW it clearly determined the correct mother.
This decision is instead like threatening the clipping of its fingernails. It didn't place a limit on the commerce clause, like some say. It did throw everything about this law into a quantum state where the mandate is a tax/penalty/fine/rule/Scott Bacula depending on who's reading it, what time of day it is, and for what purpose the "law" is being examined for. The decision is only confusion and discord, words vomited onto paper, there is no rightness in it at all.