It may sound counterintuitive, but here’s betting that President Obama wouldn’t be at all upset if the high court rules that his health plan is unconstitutional.
By urging an expedited review by the U.S. Supreme Court, the president knows that the politics cuts his way. If the court strikes down the plan, then Obama won’t have to defend it in the fall campaign, robbing the Republicans of one of their two lines of attack, the other being the moribund economy. He could rally his base by arguing that he had pushed through a great “progressive” reform only to be foiled by the conservative-leaning Supreme Court. People, like markets, hate uncertainty, and the presumed swing vote by Justice Kennedy could settle the issue.
If Obama wins the judicial appeal, it will still be a win for him along the lines of today’s conventional thinking. He will be able to argue that the Administration always knew Obamacare was constitutional, and the expedited review will muffle the issue in the general-election campaign.
The one nightmare scenario for Obama is if the Supremes hear arguments before the election and decide the case after the voting. In that event, the briefs and oral arguments could well inflame the political debate. By asking for a speedy review, the President is evidently hoping to avoid this awkward straddle.