Yeah, so that happened
While sitting around with some of my GOP friends Wednesday evening, I was asked how I thought the US Supreme Court would rule on Obamacare. I did not share the conventional wisdom that it would be 5-4 in favor of striking down the individual mandate. For some reason I felt a sense of dread, but could not give a rational or intellectual reason as to why.
Sure enough, my trepidation was validated this morning.....for a little while anyways. We'll come back to that. But first.....
In a victory for President Obama (for now - ed.), the Supreme Court decided to uphold his signature health care law's individual mandate in a split decision, upending speculation after hostile-seeming oral arguments in March that the justices would overturn the law. The mandate has been upheld as a tax, according to SCOTUSblog, with Chief Justice John Roberts joining the liberal wing of the court.For anyone geeky enough to have a SCOTUS prediction pool, I would surmise that no one collected. I mean, Chief Justice Roberts the swing vote?!?! Initially, I was stunned like so many others. But as Charles Krauthammer explained, Roberts pulled off one the "greatest constitutional finesses of all time."
He managed to uphold the central conservative argument against Obamacare, while at the same time finding a narrow definitional dodge to uphold the law — and thus prevented the court from being seen as having overturned, presumably on political grounds, the signature legislation of this administration.Yes, as I read Roberts' majority opinion, the court's ruling could indeed put the President on the defensive. That is, the individual mandate was essentially ruled a tax, an assertion at which Obama bristled nearly three years ago.
Law upheld, Supreme Court’s reputation for neutrality maintained. Commerce clause contained, constitutional principle of enumerated powers reaffirmed.
That’s not how I would have ruled. I think the “mandate is merely a tax” argument is a dodge, and a flimsy one at that. (The “tax” is obviously punitive, regulatory and intended to compel.) Perhaps that’s not how Roberts would have ruled had he been just an associate justice and not the chief. But that’s how he did rule.
Obamacare is now essentially upheld. There’s only one way it can be overturned. The same way it was passed — elect a new president and a new Congress. That’s undoubtedly what Roberts is saying: Your job, not mine. I won’t make it easy for you.
So my initial feelings of utter despair soon turned into that of a steely political warrior knowing full well the task ahead of us. Will it be easy to flip the Presidency and Senate to the GOP as well as maintaining a majority in the House? Of course not. But it's doable. In fact, GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney raised over $100,000 within an hour after the Supreme Court's ruling. And as of 6:30 Central time, a Romney source indicated that the campaign raised $2.8 million since this morning, with nearly as many individual donors as the entire month of May.
My fellow Americans aren't ready to cede this issue quite yet.