Progressives that have been stewing since the “stolen election” of 2000 may finally get to see the Supreme Court tilt a presidential election their way in 2012.
Irony comes in the strangest ways and at the strangest times.
Word came down earlier this week that the Supreme Court will review the constitutionality of Obamacare, particularly the individual mandate aspect of the Obama-led health care reform package. Those that have supported the president’s highly controversial (and widely unpopular) reform law may feel a glimmer of hope for ultimate vindication of the plan. Both proponents of the bill and detractors have been able to claim legal victories along the path to the highest court in the land.
However, by 2012, only one side will be able to claim a Supreme Court victory in 2012 – and along with it, most likely a presidential celebration by the year’s end.
The Supreme Court may end up dictating American political supremacy in 2012. Don’t be surprised by this, even if you cast the 2000 presidential election as some evil anomaly. The Supreme Court has always been a political entity, regardless of what anyone tries to pin on the Bush family concerning the origin of SCOTUS-led politics in America. Non-believers of this fact should direct themselves to Supreme Court decisions throughout history that not only impacted American society, but American politics as well.
Often overlooked in the Dred Scott Decision of 1857 is that without this travesty on human dignity and law from the high court, there might not have been the rise of the Republican Party, a Lincoln Presidency, and liberating amendments to the Constitution for both Black Americans andAmerican women within a 70-year period.
More recently, without Brown v. Board of Education, Eisenhower’s success as a president may not have included a spark to set off the 20th century Civil Rights Movement and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy may not have been as powerful or far-reaching as it has been.
Presidential elections matter because of presidential appointments to the highest courts in the land. In a twist of fate that completes the circle, sometimes what a president does with those appointments can impact how a Supreme Court can determine subsequent presidential elections and legacies.
This is why those looking at the current make-up of the Supreme Court should be very weary of trying to claim victory prematurely. Granted, upon appearances from the 9 presidential appointments to the Court, there is the likelihood that a 5-4 decision deeming the individual mandate as unconstitutional may come down from the court based on the June 2012 anticipated timeframe.
From my conservative perspective, I root for that likelihood from the Court. Like many Americans, I want successful, efficient, and affordable health care reform for all Americans regardless of socioeconomic level, but not by way of what many perceive is an unconstitutional demand by government to purchase a product under risk of penalty. Yet, looking at appearances of the Court’s political leanings alone is not enough to predict an outcome.
With the continuing high unemployment rates since 2009, the near misses of attempted terror attacks here in America, and the heightened level of divisiveness and disillusion with government, the primary accomplishment that President Obama will wish to hang his hat on domestically will be the controversial, yet historic health care bill. The Court – as well as political observers and all sorts of anxious Americans – knows that by striking a fatal blow to Obamacare through ruling against the individual mandate, the rest of the legislation could fold like a house of cards and, with it, quite possibly the last push of momentum for the president’s re-election efforts. After 2000, this Court may not particularly want the responsibility of determining an election so directly on their shoulders once again.
Perhaps we should expect the unexpected, just as we got the unexpected with all of the cronyism that played out in plain sight during health care reform passage. Maybe this Court will attempt to kick the can down the road past the election in a fashion much like how Congressmen (from both parties) kicked the debt can down the road for years now. Maybe they will uncharacteristically unify due to pressures just as we have seen from state-level courts despite lower courts’ diversity of opinions. Either way, many observers overlooking the political atmosphere swirling about the one national institution that should be undaunted by politics will find disappointment as a partisan. Sadly, most of us looking forward to this landmark decision may end up being disappointed as Americans – regardless of the appellate results.
Lenny McAllister is a political commentator found Saturdays with host TJ Holmes and fellow pundit Maria Cardona on “CNN Saturday Morning” at 10:30 AM Eastern (9:30 Central / 7:30 AM Pacific.) His “Saturday Remix” can be found at 12 noon Eastern exclusively on Politic365 after CNN Saturday Morning.