Sitting here on a Sunday night, wondering what to write about, I realized that this is the week that could provide a double “death blow” to Obama’s sorry excuse of a presidency. And now, I probably won’t sleep a lick tonight.
The Washington Post reports that
The Supreme Court this week will conclude its term by handing down much-anticipated rulings on health careand immigration, President Obama’s remaining priorities before the justices. It is a finale that cannot come quickly enough for the administration, which has had a long year at the high court.
In a string of cases — as obscure as the federal government’s relationships with Indian tribes and as significant as enforcement of the Clean Water Act — the court rejected the administration’s legal arguments with lopsided votes and sometimes biting commentary.
The administration’s win-loss record will sting a lot less, of course, if the court upholds the constitutionality of Obama’s signature domestic achievement, the Affordable Care Act. That decision on health care, which will define the term, could come as early as Monday and almost certainly will be announced by Thursday.
The court also will decide the fate of Arizona’s tough law on illegal immigrants, which the Obama administration challenged in court before it could take effect. The government’s argument that the law conflicts with the federal authority to decide immigration policy got a sour reception from the justices, but the government hopes for at least a split decision on other aspects of the measure.
The administration’s ungainly portfolio at the Supreme Court this term has drawn attention from all points on the ideological spectrum.
Ilya Shapiro, a constitutional scholar at the libertarian Cato Institute, said the government is to blame for “outlandish claims of federal power” that the court was correct to reject.
Adam Winkler, a liberal law professor at UCLA, recently wrote that the court headed by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. has been “unusually hostile to the Obama administration.”
His conclusion: “This is the year of the Supreme Court’s Obama smack down.”
It might also have something to do with the (bad) luck of the draw. It is the job of Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. to defend the actions of Congress and the executive. In some of the government’s high-profile losses in Verrilli’s inaugural term, the administration was defending decisions made long before Obama took office.
But whatever the reasons, the losses so far cannot be blamed on the conflict between an increasingly conservative court and a progressive administration. For instance, the authors of the Indian cases that went against the government last week were Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, Obama’s choices for the court.
At least so far, 5-to-4 decisions that have divided the court along ideological lines have split fairly evenly between wins for liberals and for conservatives. And there has been a string of high-profile losses in which the government has failed to win the vote of a single justice — liberal or conservative.
The New York Times has their own Liberal Spin on the fate of Obamacare…and it appears to this humble blooger that these Yankees are proving that denial is not just a river in Egypt.
Late on Tuesday, March 27, halfway around the world, President Obama began one of the most suspenseful waits in recent presidential history.
After a blur of nuclear security meetings in South Korea, Mr. Obama settled into the Air Force One conference room to read a summary aides had written of that day’s arguments before the Supreme Court back in Washington. The justices had asked deeply skeptical questions about his health care law.
Mr. Obama’s most profound policy achievement was at much higher risk of defeat than his aides had expected, vulnerable to being erased by the margin of a single justice’s vote.
Since then, Mr. Obama and the White House have put on brave faces, insisting that the law and the mandate at its center will be upheld when the court rules this month. In private conversations, they predict that the bulk of the law will survive even if the mandate requiring Americans to buy health insurance does not.
But even if the White House is a fortress of message discipline, it cannot disguise the potential heartbreak for Mr. Obama, who managed to achieve a decades-old Democratic dream despite long odds and at steep cost.
If he loses both his law and re-election, many will conclude “that he bet on his major reform, and the Supreme Court defeated it, and he lost his hold on the presidency,” Robert Dallek, the presidential historian, said in an interview.
On the day the ruling comes out, one Obama adviser joked, “I might have to clean out my sock drawer.”
In grappling with what the court may do, Mr. Obama and his advisers now appear to be far past the denial stage (when they dismissed constitutional challenges) but nowhere near acceptance (they still believe the law will be upheld.) Instead, they have quietly entered a surprising new state that might be called Learning to Live Without Universal Coverage.
Former advisers are emphasizing the many aspects of the bill that are not connected to the mandate, like the subsidies to buy insurance. Some aides even argue privately that losing the mandate could be a political boon, because it would rob Republicans of their core complaint against the law.
But that position is uncomfortable for a deeper reason, one that goes to the core of who Mr. Obama wanted to be as president. Earlier in his term, he refused every chance to settle for the more limited health care overhaul that the Supreme Court may now effectively deliver, making epic sacrifices to win something far broader.
Or, geniuses, they could toss out the whole cotton-pickin’ abomination…if we’re lucky.