Morning Examiner: What oral arguments accomplished

Politics,Beltway Confidential,Conn Carroll

Did Justice Kennedy’s tough questioning of Solicitor General Don Verrilli Tuesday show that Kennedy will vote to strike down the individual mandate? Did Roberts’ questions yesterday tip his preference for striking down the whole law? Reasonable minds can disagree. Nobody really knows. But that doesn’t mean this week’s oral arguments did not accomplish anything. Quite the contrary.

Before this week, elite media opinion in Washington was supremely confident that the Supreme Court would uphold Obamacare. The New York Times‘ Linda Greenhouse said the case against Obamacare was “analytically so weak that it dissolves on close inspection.” Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick predicted the Court would side with the Obama administration by a e 6-3 or 7-2 margin.

But the oral arguments, particularly Tuesday’s meltdown by General Verrilli, has flipped that narrative 180 degrees. Bounding out of the Court Tuesday, liberal CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said, “This law looks like it’s going to be struck down. I’m telling you, all of the predictions, including mine, that the justices would not have a problem with this law were wrong. I think this law is in grave, grave trouble.” And Toobin was not alone. Headlines from newspapers around the country, and the nightly news, all reported that Obamacare was now in grave danger.

This will make it much, much easier for the Court to overturn the law in June. Now it will not come as such a shock.

Which undercuts the Democrats latest campaign to intimidate the Court into compliance. Yesterday, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D), a former attorney general of Connecticut, said from the Court’s steps, “The court commands no armies, it has no money; it depends for its power on its credibility. The only reason people obey it is because it has that credibility. And the court risks grave damage if it strikes down a statute of this magnitude and importance, and stretches so dramatically and drastically to do it.”

But now that even the liberal media has acknowledged that the Obama administration dropped the ball before the Court, Democrat attacks on the Court’s credibility will fall flat. At this point, it would be a surprise if the Court did not overturn the law.

Campaign 2012
Romney: Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., a Tea Party favorite, endorsed Mitt Romney last night. “We have to come together behind who I think has earned the nomination, and that’s Mitt Romney,” Rubio said of Romney in an appearance on Fox News. But on a conference call with Wisconsin supporters, Romney joked about a time his dad closed a factory in Michigan.

National Polling: A new CNN poll heavily weighted toward Democrats found that Obama is beating Romney 54 percent to 43 percent among registered voters.

Florida Senate: A new Quinnipiac University poll shows Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., up by eight points over Republican Rep. Connie Mack, 44 percent to 36 percent.

Ohio Senate: A new Quinnipiac University poll shows Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, up by 10 points over Republican state Treasurer Josh Mandel, 46 percent to 36 percent.

Around the Bigs
The Washington Post, Supreme Court’s health-care ruling could deal dramatic blow to Obama presidency: White House officials are refusing publicly to consider that the law might be struck down, but some Democrats believe an Obamacare defeat in the Supreme Court would be devastating. “He’s mortgaged his presidency, at least his first term, on health care,” said George Edwards, a Texas A&M historian.

The New York Times, Business Bets on the G.O.P. May Be Backfiring: Business groups that supported Republicans in 2010 complain to The New York Times about conservative opposition to the Export-Import Bank and the highway bill.

Fox News, House easily rejects Obama budget: By a bipartisan and unanimous 414-0 vote the House of Representatives rejected Obama’s budget last night.

Righty Playbook
At RedState, the Club for Growth’s Chris Chocula makes the case against the Ryan budget.

The Weekly Standard‘s John McCormack explains why a vote for the Simpson-Bowles plan is a vote for Obamacare.

The Heritage Foundation‘s James Carafano says it is time to dismantle the TSA.

Lefty Playbook
Talking Points Memo‘s Josh Marshall argues the mandate’s defeat would be good for liberals since it would move the country closer to single payer.

Mother Jones‘ Kevin Drum says its the Supreme Court’s job, not that of Obamacare’s defenders, to identify a limiting principle for the Commerce Clause.

ThinkProgress says that the JOBS Act, which Obama is expected to sign this week, gives millionaires an average $45,000 tax cut.

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