It is one of the most critical weeks yet for the Obama administration - two decisions at the supreme court have major implications for the future of federal power.
President Obama must be looking forward to the week long break for the fourth of July with some trepidation. Before he can relax and kick back at a family barbecue, he faces one of the toughest weeks of his administration, just four months before the election. Two major legal decisions by the US Supreme Court, a fight with Congressional Republicans over funding for federal highways and student loan rates, and the possibility that his Attorney General could be held in contempt.
First off, the legal drama. The Supreme Court has decided to leave till Thursday its ruling on what happens to Obama's flagship piece of legislation: the sweeping health care reform designed to expand insurance coverage to tens of millions more Americans. Will the law be upheld, or struck down? Or will the justices merely rip out its heart, the provision requiring citizens to buy health care coverage, known as the individual mandate. A few days of tense waiting before we find out.
Immigration law confusion
On Monday, though, the Court was more than busy enough ruling on Arizona's controversial immigration law: upholding one key provision but also allowing three out of four challenges by the Obama administration. A mixed result, then, that got the cable news networks all confused about whether this was a victory, or a defeat for the White House. And one which could face futher legal challenge down the line.
The nine justices were unanimous in agreeing that one key part of Arizona's SB1070 should stay: the clause allowing police to check the immigration status of anyone who is stopped and arrested. That, say liberals, could still open the door to a system of racial profiling: President Obama said he was concerned that Arizona officials should "not enforce this law in a manner that undermines the civil rights of Americans".
The court ruled by 5 to 3 to overturn three other provisions, including one making it a crime for illegal immigrants to seek or perform work, and another requiring them to carry papers proving their status. Justice Anthony Kennedy, in the majority verdict, explained where the limits of state power lay, arguing that "the national government has significant power to regulate immigration".
Still, Arizona's governor Jan Brewer, pronounced the court verdict a victory, "for all Americans who believe in the inherent right and responsibility of states to defend their citizens". Five other states which have passed similar laws will now be waiting to find out how they are affected by the Supreme Court decision.
The Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, who happened to be on a campaign swing through Arizona when the ruling came out, didn't make any direct reference to it when pressed by reporters, referring instead to what he called Obama's "broken promise" on immigration. Democrats, however, are already suggesting that the issue could help drive Hispanic voters to the polls in November - and they won't be voting for Romney.
But what liberals have termed "the year of the Supreme Court's Obama smackdown" isn't the half of it. The other running theme of the presidency has been the increasingly bitter partisan struggle between the White House and the Republican-dominated Congress, resulting in political gridlock. There's more evidence of that this week, too, with the looming deadline hanging over two key pieces of spending, on student loan rates and federal highways.
If Congress doesn't renew these provisions by the end of June, the rate for one popular type of student loan will double, from 3.4 per cent to 6.8 per cent, while the cash for urgently needed highway funding will simply run dry. Obama has insisted it should be a "no brainer" for Congress to act on the student loan issue, while the GOP insist he has not demonstrated how freezing the rate would be paid for.
As if all of this wasn't enough, the fate of one of Obama's main cabinet secretaries is also at stake. Attorney General Eric Holder could be held in contempt over what is known as the Fast and Furious scandal: his failure to hand over thousands of internal Department of Justice documents which might shed light on how officials came to allow guns to fall into the hands of Mexican drugs cartels.
The Republican chairman of the House oversight committee, Darrell Issa, has admitted there is no evidence that the White House was involved in a possible cover-up to limit damage from the failed sting operation. His committee voted to hold Eric Holder in comtempt, with the censure going before the full House for a vote this week.
Holder himself has dismissed the move as an "election year tactic", designed to provoke what he called a perfectly avoidable confrontation between Congress and the Executive branch - as if they needed another excuse for a head-on clash. But if the House votes in favour, the US Attorney for the District of Columbia will have to decide whether Holder will face criminal prosecution.
For many Americans, already disillusioned by the infernal squabbling inside the corridors of power, this is all further proof that their political leaders are fast losing cause for their trust, let alone respect. Many are thinking there's more than enough contempt on Capitol Hill without more flung into the mix.
This is a hugely important week, then, for President Obama: a key test of his leadership, a moment which could decide the extent of his political legacy. But it is also a big week for the Republicans, who must decide how far their Congressional inaction strategy will help or hinder them at the polls; and how their response to th critical rulings from the Supreme Court will define their attitude to power.
Keep watching: the fireworks exploding above the Washington skies on the fourth of July will seem like pretty damp squibs, compared to this.
Felicty Spector writes about US affairs for Channel 4 News