by on 29 June, 2012


Menzies House U.S. Politics Editor Amir Iljazi discusses the historic ruling on the Affordable Care Act and who the winners and losers were.

The US Supreme Court finally rendered their opinion on President Obama’s historic Health Care Reform legislation. The outcome was a surprise, and the immediate effects seem to be a positive for several of those who had much at stake. Here are the winners and losers from the monumental decision. 


President Obama

Make no mistake ladies and gentlemen; this ruling was a major victory for President Obama on multiple fronts. The Affordable Care Act was his signature domestic legislative achievement and the biggest issue for him and his party aside from the economy. The fact that the highest court in the land affirmed the law means that the one year President Obama and Democrats spent getting the law passed and the two years they have spent defending it did not go to waste as we head toward another election. Had the law fallen, it would have been devastating for an incumbent President struggling to find a salient strategy on how to run for reelection.

President Obama (left), Mitt Romney (right) will battle on Health Care this Fall 

Mitt Romney

Yes, Mr. Romney was also a winner in the decision to uphold “ObamaCare” today. How you ask? Several ways and the first being financially; Mr. Romney’s Presidential campaign raised more than $1 million dollars in online donations in the hours after the decision was announced. This is also a victory for Mr. Romney in terms of getting the base energized to go out and vote; there can be no debate now about whether or not the most conservative voters will turn out to vote for an otherwise “moderate” GOP nominee… the base has been shored up. Finally, Mr. Romney can now discuss the issue not as a Health Care bill, but a “tax increase” and judging by historical standards, tax increases don’t play well with voters.

Chief Justice John Roberts

In a surprising move, the conservative George W. Bush-nominated Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court sided with the liberal justices to uphold the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act… but the way in which he did it was truly the most important aspect of how he was a winner today. Mr. Roberts did three things in this ruling: First, he silenced those on the left who have tried to paint the “Roberts’ Court” as political in nature, that argument is now null and void. Second, he upheld the limited-government principle that sought to argue the role of the Commerce Clause as applied by law. Third, he put the ultimate fate of the law in the hands of the voters while doing what no Democrat would do… tell the truth that it was a tax.


Conventional Wisdom

So much for insight and analysis! Nobody got this one right, not even the left-wingers who said it would be upheld could have envisioned the rationale being quite possibly a new front on the battle for the 2012 campaign. I called it wrong as did many other observers and really everyone did, from the beginning. The genesis from most “experts” was that it would be upheld by a wide majority; then it seemed as if it was headed for disaster; and all along many thought Kennedy would be the swing vote, he wasn’t. The observers were way off on this one and that isn’t limited to any media venue, or side of the political aisle.
Chief Justice Roberts (above) went where nobody, left or right thought he would 

Senate Democrats

The most vulnerable group of politicians are those elected officials who voted for ObamaCare and the 2010 midterm elections proved that. Now, the Democrats in the Senate will be tasked with going to their constituents and explaining why they voted for an effective tax increase to the tune of more than $500 billion dollars. This issue will not be helpful to many Senate Democrats in close races and with control of the Senate in total play for the 2012 election, it has just been made that much more difficult by being burdened with a vote to increase taxes on their recent record.

Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy

The moment that the Affordable Care Act was out on a track to be heard in front of the US Supreme Court, all attention was focused and had been focused on Justice Anthony Kennedy. He has been seen as the “swing” vote on the court over the last several years and many believed that whichever way he went would in fact be the way of the majority. It is clear now that the real swing vote is not Kennedy, but Mr. Roberts as he is both a conservative mind, but also the “steward” of the institution he presides over. 
Justice Kennedy (above) is a "swing" vote in the court, no-more

Anthony Kennedy has been more of “reliable” conservative in the last few terms of the court as opposed to the “swing” vote that he used to be during his days serving with Chief Justice Rehnquist and Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. I would venture to guess that the attention he was accustomed to receiving in the run-up to major decisions will likely dissipate, considering the vehement dissent he authored today.

Amir Iljazi is the U.S. Politics Editor of Menzies House. He earned his Master's Degree in Political Science at American University in Washington, D.C. and currently resides in Tampa, Florida. Before relocating back to Florida, he specialized in longitudinal campaign tracking and voter trends for Federal Races nationwide while working for a Washington DC based center-right political advocacy organisation. You may follow him on Twitter@Michi83

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