Thursday, June 28, 2012

SCOTUS and the Affordable Care Act

There's lots of coverage about the U.S. Supreme Court's decision today that upholds most of President Obama's signature health care reform legislation, the Affordable Care Act. I'm therefore not going to link to any specific article; if you haven't already read or watched anything about it, do a Web search.

My only thought on the subject is, I'm wondering how President Obama and the Democrats generally will fumble the (unfortunately) important battle over the public perception of the Court's decision and of the Act itself. Because if recent history is any indication, they will screw up and lose that battle to the Republicans, even if the Dems have the facts on their side. Republicans in the last twenty years have excelled at repeating The Big Lie (which varies according to which issue they're pushing) often enough that people who aren't paying attention start believing it ("Saddam Hussein is linked to the 9/11 terrorists", for example).

A worrying and potentially more significant byproduct of today's decision is discussed in a blog post in the New York Times, namely, the potential gutting of the Commerce Clause. We may end up regretting this decision as much as we regret Citizens United in the not too distant future.

Oh, and with this Constitutional Twister of a decision (by which I mean it bends first one way, then another; you should see the disparate alliances he cobbled together in different parts of the decision to muster a bare majority for the whole), Chief Justice Roberts looks like he excels at playing the public-relations game. He has, at first blush, apparently improved the Court's battered reputation, about which he is known to care a good deal. Whether he is worth respecting for his judicial principles and dedication to a genuinely nonpartisan reading of the law and the Constitution is, in my opinion, still gravely in doubt. I suspect, though, that a few decades hence, he and this era's Court will not be as well-regarded as he would like.

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