Tuesday, December 13, 2011


It's obvious that the Supreme Court is trying to operate as a super PAC for the Republican Party -- ostensibly independent, technically not permitted to coordinate its efforts with those of the candidates, but obviously in sync. I'm just not sure what outcomes in the politically charged cases the Court is taking this year will accomplish its goals -- though I have my guesses.

On the decision to review the Arizona immigration law, I think The Washington Post's Aaron Blake is close to the truth:

...it's ... easy to see how a SCOTUS intervention won't turn out so well for the GOP. The administration urged the court not to take up the immigration case, but politically speaking, this is actually an issue that could work for Democrats.

... this is something the GOP isn’t always happy to talk about -- particularly as Latinos are an increasingly important voter bloc....

Which is why I think the Court's Republicans want the lower court decision blocking provisions of the law to be upheld. Uphold the law itself and you motivate millions of Hispanic citizens to go to the polls and keep the next four years of Supreme Court vacancies out of Republican hands. By contrast, if you let the lower court decision stand, you motivate right-wing voters, who never think any institution of government is right-wing enough, and who'll therefore be more motivated to vote GOP (and the party may crave a motivation boost if its presidential nominee is less than inspiring). Fox News/talk radio wingnuts will be focused not only on the Supreme Court, but on the fact that the lower court ruling being upheld is from the hated Ninth Circuit -- the right despises the Ninth and refers to it as "the Ninth Circus." So giving Obama a win would help the GOP. (The ideal outcome for the right, I suppose, is that Elena Kagan's recusal causes a 4-4 split. That means the lower court's decision is upheld but there's no Supreme Court ruling to serve as a precedent.)

On health care, I really don't agree with this:

...some analysts believe Obama would benefit from a decision on his health care law, regardless of the outcome.

"If the court does the unlikely and strikes the law down, he could try to run against the court. And if they uphold it, it takes some of the other side's rhetoric away" by undercutting arguments that the law is unconstitutional, said Rick Hasen, a law professor at the University of California, Irvine.

On that second point: really? Does Professor Hasen really think the right will be mollified by a Supreme Court ruling upholding the health care law?

I see peril for Obama either way on health care. If he loses, his biggest presidential achievement is struck down. If he wins, it's a massive motivator to right-wing voters. The message is: You want to overturn "Obamacare"? Your only hope is to do it at the ballot box.

(And no, a loss won't permit Obama to run against the Court, because nobody loves the health care law as much as everyone on the right hates it.)

On the Texas redistricting case, however, the Supremes aren't hoping for this kind of bank shot -- they just want to win. It's part of the GOP's drive to grind out every possible advantage connected to voting. There's no mystery or jujitsu there.

1 comment:

c u n d gulag said...

When I was younger, if you told me I'd miss the Burger and Rehnquist courts, I'd have laughed at you.

Now, I'm not laughing.

I sure do miss those old flaming Liberals...