On the presidential campaign trail in 2000, George W. Bush was asked if elected what kind of judge he'd look for and nominate. He didn't hesitate. He pledged to appoint "strict constructionists" to the court and specifically named Thomas, Antonin Scalia and William Rehnquist as the judges that perfectly fit that description. By then the three had already carved out a hard line niche as three of the most reflexive, knee jerk, reactionary jurists to grace the court in decades.
In the King versus Burwell case, the ultra-conservative American Enterprise Institute and the litigious Competitive Enterprise Institute are running the point on the case. They bank on two things to get the court to hack saw the act. One is the inherent partisan political bias of Roberts and the other three judges. The other is that they will adhere unbendingly to the narrow of narrowest strict constructionist reading of the law. They will hold that the four words "established by the states" which is in the wording of the act makes no mention of the federal government establishing buyer exchanges complete with subsidies. The Obama administration correctly argues that the court should follow the plain sense text of the law and prior precedents which clearly permit tax credits to individuals whether the exchanges are state established or established by the federal government.
If the judges, joined by Kennedy, indeed act according to the expected script, it will be another notch in the GOP's hit plan on Obamacare. Beyond that it will stand as yet another in the long train of crude, cynical political ploys to inflame millions of Americans and stoke hostility to Obama and the Democrats. This could sharpen the already considerable political edge the GOP got when it grabbed the Senate and tightened its grip on the House in the 2014 midterm elections. A court victory on Obamacare could give it even more momentum in the run-up to the 2016 presidential elections.
The big loser in this cynical knock at Obama will be the millions who potentially could lose their coverage in the 34 states with federally established exchanges. That's of little importance to the GOP and their reliable four justices who have waged ruthless war against Obama. The issue for both in this case as always is not Obamacare, but Obama.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on American Urban Radio Network. His forthcoming book is: From King to Obama: Witness to a Turbulent History (Middle Passage Press) http://www.amazon.com/dp/0692370714
He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on American Urban Radio Network. He is an associate editor of New America Media. He is host of the weekly Hutchinson Report Newsmaker Hour heard weekly on the nationally network broadcast Hutchinson Newsmaker Network.
Follow Earl Ofari Hutchinson on Twitter: twitter.com/earlhutchinson