Thingish Things

Yet more on the law and politics of Obamacare

Written By: Bill Lalor - Jul• 08•12

John Fabian Witt, a Yale law professor and law historian, wrote a fabulous and insightful piece for that is a must-read on the Supreme Court’s Obamacare ruling.  (It’s so good that I am posting it now, even though it’s about a week old.) Based on Roberts’s training and intellectual lineage, Witt writes,

“it should be no surprise that the chief justice had an intuitive feel for what he called the “functional approach” of the Act’s individual mandate as the equivalent of a tax makes perfect sense. Roberts’s practical evaluation of the Act seems quite plausibly to have been the result of professional training and mentoring that allowed him to draw on a long history, going back eighty years to the beginnings of a remarkable line of American jurists yoked together by relations of mentorship and professional connections.”

Witt’s article is eye-opening reading for those of us who have spent the last week or so scratching our heads over the ruling and how conservatives won with Justice Kennedy but lost with Justice Roberts.

As much as Republican campaigns may salivate at making 2012 a “referendum” on Obamacare, the SCOTUS ruling is a boost for President Obama.  There’s nothing scientific about this observation, but the President (perhaps temporarily) enjoys a timely new gloss of competence.  He can now make the argument to voters that he promised “transformative” things and, whatever the political consequences, stuck by the rhetoric by seeing through truly “landmark” legislation that had eluded liberals for so long. For a President defined by disappointment, failure and pettiness, the defense of Obamacare – now with a blessing, of sorts, from Justice Roberts – will put some much-needed wind in the sails.  To borrow from a friend of mine who is a non-affiliated voter and my go-to Obama-barometer: “He seems like less of a loser.”

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