Feb. 6, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

GOP Sees Opening in Health Care Case

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call
The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case on the constitutionality of the health care law’s mandate to buy insurance. Republicans are hoping to use the case to encourage public opposition to the law.

"Either it is going to be found constitutional or unconstitutional. If the court finds it unconstitutional, Obamacare falls. But if they find it constitutional ... the only recourse the voters will have will be to elect a new president that will sign the repeal."

King noted that Ohio, which last week defeated an effort by Gov. John Kasich (R) to limit collective bargaining for public employees, also passed a referendum seeking to block the individual mandate.

"If the union-friendly electorate in Ohio can vote 66 percent to reject Obamacare, I think President Obama's campaign and his re-election prospects drop like a rock," King said.

"I do see it as a win-win," King said. "What I would prefer would be a Supreme Court ruling that finds the law unconstitutional because I think that preserves the structure of the Constitution, and that is extraordinarily important. But should we not prevail there, then I think it will nearly impossible for [Obama] to prevail in the election a year from now."

Though Obama did not address the court review specifically, he told a crowd at a fundraiser in Hawaii on Monday that health care reform is an example of the change he has brought to the country and that "[e]verything that we fought for in the last election is now at stake in this election," according to a pool report.

Democrats said Republicans were miscalculating the political benefits from the case.

"It will be interesting to see when Republican operatives realize that it is no longer 2010, and that this election is going to be about the economy, plain and simple," said Matt Canter, spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) is unlikely to counter McConnell with his own amicus brief supporting the law, according to a senior Democratic Senate aide. The Democratic Conference is similarly unlikely to be active as a group on this issue in the runup to the deliberations before the court, although supportive Democrats are expected to be vocal in defending and promoting the law.

The health care law isn't a desirable issue for all Democrats, the Democratic Senate aide conceded. However, a spokesman for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) did not rule out an amicus brief to the high court, and it's possible House Democrats could be more active than their Senate counterparts. Pelosi had signed previous amicus briefs in favor of the law as the challenge has made its way though the courts.

Sen. Mike Lee, who previously served as a Supreme Court clerk for Justice Samuel Alito and strongly opposes Obama's health care law, declined to predict how the justices might rule.

"Trying to forecast what the Supreme Court might do with a case is always a treacherous exercise," the Utah Republican said in a telephone interview. "We've never had a case quite like this one."

Lee added that he used to hear the same admonition from his late father, who served as solicitor general under President Ronald Reagan. The Senator recalls his father often telling him that, "At the end of the day, it's all about counting to five" a reference to the five justices needed to secure a court majority ruling. Many observers believe that the health care decision could boil down to swing Justice Anthony Kennedy.

comments powered by Disqus




Want Roll Call on your doorstep?