I do not know why it is difficult for people to believe that the Supreme Court is independent of Washington politics. Certainly Chief Justice John Roberts holds conservative beliefs, but more importantly, his judicial philosophy is to interpret the law based on a strict understanding of the Constitution, as well as through the lens of the precedent of the court.
That is precisely what happened with the health care case. Those who don't believe so have not read his opinion. Hooper v. California requires that when the court rules on a law, "every reasonable construction must be resorted to, in order to save a statute from unconstitutionality."
Accordingly, Justice Roberts considered each of the government’s arguments when writing his opinion. The arguments made to defend the constitutionality were based firstly on the commerce clause, secondly on the "necessary and proper" clause, and thirdly on Congress' taxation power.
Chief Justice Roberts acted in his capacity as the chief justice of an independent judiciary.
Just because the Democrats don't like the fact that the law was upheld under Congress' taxation power doesn't mean that it is not a tax. Likewise, though Republicans do not like the fact that Roberts did not side with them does not give them permission to attack his judicial philosophy (which they agreed with back during his confirmation hearings).
To be clear: I believe the Affordable Care Act is bad public policy, but I have the highest respect for Justice Roberts’ ability to avoid Washington politics.
Brent Bowen, Lewiston