Here's an initial report.
I'm somewhere between surprised and shocked.
This court has shown no reluctance about engaging in partisan hackery.
As I commented here on Sunday:
The Republicans have 1) a clear agenda of making Obama fail in every way possible, and 2) a clear majority on this court. Constitutionality and legal nuance are utterly beside the point. Bush v Gore and C U proved that.
They will strike down the mandate. Little else matters, since without it, the program fails.
The tortured logic of the majority opinion will be agonizingly painful for anyone with the stomach to read it.
Fortunately, I was wrong. Chief Justice Roberts sided with the Dem appointees, while Scalia, Alito, Thomas and Kennedy dissented, of course.
[UPDATE: Their dissenting opinion is not only incoherent on its own, it is legally inconsistent with prior opinions issued by Kennedy and Scalia.]
I can't get past my cynicism of this court, though. Roberts wrote the majority opinion, but passed the mandate as a tax, explicitly rejecting any commerce clause justification. Why he would go with it at all is mysterious. My suspicion is that somehow the regressives couldn't muster whatever it takes to strike this down. I imagine extensive back room wrangling to see who would be the fall guy. Either Roberts drew the short straw or he decided it was his leadership responsibility to take one for the team.
[Alternatively, he might now be thinking about redeeming his legacy - I read that somewhere this morning. (See - I said there might be more.)]
My impression from writing put out by people who think of the Constitution as something more than a goddamned piece of paper is that the commerce clause justification was pretty clear cut.
Still, I don't think this is the end of the story. In fact, it might be only the beginning.