Smelling salts all round at Fox News when the announcement came that Chief Justice Roberts, a Bush appointee and a man who had shown physical disagreement with Obama by shaking his head during one of his speeches, had come down on the side of the President's monster Health Bill. Everyone, including the White House, judging by their not-so-veiled warnings, thought Roberts would torpedo it. But he surprised them all, Right and Left, by describing it as a Tax Bill and therefore beyond the remit of the Supreme Court.
For the sake of my European readers with less than my total and nerdish fascination with arcane American affairs I will try and explain the nice (that's 'nice' in both the contemporary and 19th century meaning) legal pinhead upon which they all danced. Under the Bill, American citizens must buy health insurance otherwise their Inland Revenue Service will be after them with investigations and fines. This, I suppose, is why Justice Roberts called it a Tax Bill. The Republican challengers had said that it was against the Constitution for the government to force citizens to buy goods or services from a private supplier. There was a little bit of wriggle room stemming from an earlier Court ruling back in Roosevelt's day (yeees, quite!) which had set a sort of precedent allowing the government to do that sort of thing.
However, clever Justice Roberts side-stepped all this by calling the mandated health charges a tax and therefore not the business of the Court. He knew full well that this was the hottest political potato to land in the Court since the days of racial segregation disputes. What he has said with absolute clarity is that it is not for the Court to decide whether or not this or that particular tax is good, bad or indifferent because that is a decision of the electorate. If they don't like it, it is for them to change it! And he knew that in just a few months time the electorate will have their chance. This leaves the Democrats with the problem of selling a massive tax hike to the American people during an election campaign. However, before the Republicans start rubbing their hands with joy they now have the almost impossible job of agreeing amongst themselves some alternative to Obama's bill that will ease the chronic difficulties in the American health care shambles.
Be careful what you wish for seems to be the motto of the day!