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SCOTUS Obamacare ruling a crushing defeat for conservatives

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Photo - Rachel Del Guidici, 18, of Shreve, Ohio, and others, demonstrate against President Barack Obama's health care law outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Thursday, June 28, 2012. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Rachel Del Guidici, 18, of Shreve, Ohio, and others, demonstrate against President Barack Obama's health care law outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Thursday, June 28, 2012. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Politics,Beltway Confidential,Byron York

The bottom line for the Supreme Court’s decision upholding Obamacare is that it is a huge victory for President Obama.  If the Court had struck down the national health care law, either in part or in whole, it would have been by far the worst day of Obama’s presidency.  Now, it might not be the best day — but avoiding disaster is without question a huge boost for the president.

For conservatives, the verdict is a crushing disappointment.  Yes, there were some conservatives who predicted the Court would uphold Obamacare, but there were many who simply did not believe that a majority of justices would hold that the Constitution’s Commerce Clause supports an individual mandate to buy health insurance.  As it turned out, they were right: the Court ruled that the Commerce Clause does not, in fact, stretch that far.  But it doesn’t matter, because Chief Justice John Roberts joined the Court’s liberal wing in affirming the mandate under Congress’ power to tax.

Finally, for many conservatives, the disappointment is even more crushing for the fact that it was Roberts, the conservative judge appointed by George W. Bush, who saved Obamacare.  If Justice Anthony Kennedy — the Court’s traditional swing voter — had joined the liberals, conservatives would have gone back to the well-worn curse-Kennedy playbook.  But Roberts — that is another story, and conservatives will be analyzing that for quite a while to come.

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