Roberts Rules of Order
Chief Justice John Roberts have everyone scratching their collective heads wondering why on earth a conservative Supreme Court Justice would side with the liberals on the court and vote to uphold the Affordable Care Act (ACA) known as Obamacare.
In his lengthy written opinion Roberts indicated that he felt the law exceeded the authority of the Commerce Clause in the U.S. Constitution. He also indicated that the individual mandate to purchase health insurance seemed more like a penalty than a tax. Yet his decision to vote in favor was based upon his feeling that the government is within its rights to levy a tax on people for not buying health insurance and that the mandate could be considered a tax. What? His opinion reads like he is going to vote against the ACA right up until the time he votes for it.
Could he have an ulterior motive for voting for Obamacare? Many have cited that this contentious decision by the highest court in the land serves to energize Republicans, particularly Tea Partiers, to get out the vote in November and elect as many Republicans as they can, especially the one running for the White House, Mitt Romney.
Keeping Obamacare also preserves it as a major weapon for Romney to use against Obama during the campaign. Roberts' labeling the mandate as a tax gives credence to Republicans labeling Obama as a tax and spend big government liberal.
Keeping Obamacare also continues to give big business the excuse that they are afraid to hire new employees until they know the real cost of Obamacare.
So, could Roberts ruling be a plus for the Republicans in the coming election? It certainly could.
With so many Republicans wringing their hands throughout this presidential campaign over their worry that Romney just doesn't get their base excited enough to go out and vote on election day, this may be just the thing that gets the faithful off the couch and into the voting booth.
If the Roberts ruling succeeds in getting out the GOP vote in sufficient numbers to get a win for Romney and some of the GOP Senators running to defeat incumbent Democrats then it is likely that the ACA will be repealed by a Congress and White House dominated by the GOP. Did Roberts think this through with that in mind? It very well could be.
In other words, he could have voted to repeal Obamacare and the issue would have been dead. (Although, Romney could have labeled Obamacare as a massive waste of government time and tax payers money when Obama should have been creating jobs.) Or, as he may have thought through, he could vote to keep Obamacare and then let the resulting furor drive Republicans in massive numbers to the ballot box to vote themselves into office and so that they can ultimately repeal Obamacare anyway.
It turns out to be a much bigger win for Republicans to be in a situation to repeal next year rather than have the Supreme Court declare it unconstitutional now.
Romney has run for president on a promise to "repeal and replace" Obamacare. But one really has to wonder what he would replace it with. "Romneycare", which he put into place in Massachusetts when he was Governor there, was the working model for Obamacare and so shares all the important characteristics of Obamacare including the mandate for everyone to buy insurance.
Romney's flip-flopping on many issues will be used as a weapon against him and he will have a tough time with the biggest flop of all, why would he repeal a law that he had a lot to do with creating and what would he replace it with? His own credibility on health care among independents will be an interesting side story.
Some are saying that Chief Justice John Roberts voted for Obamacare at least in part to save the reputation of the Supreme Court from being labeled another partisan political body that always votes along political lines just like Congress. Is it that or is it that he had much bigger political goals in mind for his GOP, regaining the White House and control of the Senate AND repealing Obamacare?
We should know in a little over four months.