June 28, 2012

Winning, Skinning and Chinning

I thought for sure I'd have five (or more) Asshats of the Day after the Supreme Court ruling came down, with the possibility of creating an entirely new category to fit--maybe AssClownCanoe, or some such.

Instead, to my surprise and delight (and I'm sure to the President's immense relief; I can just imagine he and his advisors grappling how to wrestle with this issue during his reelection campaign if Obamacare was struck down) the ACA was largely upheld.

Still, I can't shake the feeling we got this win by the skin of John Roberts' chinny chin chin. Apparently the four dissenters--Scalia, Alito, Thomas and Kennedy--were prepared not only to strike the individual mandate but get rid of the law lock, stock, and barrel. According to the wonderful Steve Benen on Rachel Maddow's blog:

And yet, as of this morning, four justices -- Alito, Kennedy, Scalia, and Thomas -- insisted on doing exactly that. The four dissenters demanded that the Supreme Court effectively throw out the entirety of the law -- the mandate, the consumer protections, the tax cuts, the subsidies, the benefits, everything

To reach this conclusion, these four not only had to reject a century of Commerce Clause jurisprudence, they also had ignore the Necessary and Proper clause, and Congress' taxation power. I can't read Chief Justice John Roberts' mind, but it wouldn't surprise me if the extremism of the four dissenters effectively forced him to break ranks -- had Kennedy been willing to strike down the mandate while leaving the rest of the law intact, this may well have been a 5-4 ruling the other way.

In other words, this time around (too bad he didn't think this way when it came to Citizens United) Roberts wasn't quite willing to let the barbarians storm the gate. 

There's also a few thoughts that the dissent was originally the majority opinion, later edited to reflect Justice Roberts' last-minute change of heart.  

 Whatever. However it shakes out, I'll take it. But the whole thing serves as a dire warning to any remaining undecided voters. What would just one more justice in the mold of Scalia, Alito and Thomas (appointed by President Romney) have done  to this legislation, nevermind Roe v. Wade  or any other important constitutional question?  

 That notion should give any thinking person the shivers. 

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