Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., argued that Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts upheld Obamacare in order to help Republicans, analysis he offered to buttress the idea that the court's five Republican nominees are partisan jurists.
"I think there is a very strong case to be made that the best political decision that the Republicans could have gotten out of the court was that one," Whitehouse told the Washington Examiner while discussing Roberts' conclusion, much maligned on the right, that the individual mandate qualified as a tax for constitutional purposes.
"The only part that was really legitimately at issue was the mandate, and if the mandate goes, Democrats still get what we wanted, which was coverage for preexisting conditions," he explained. "Republicans lose what they wanted, which was some way to pay for coverage for preexisting conditions for the insurance industry. That's what the mandate was for, was to deliver the insurance industry. Who is the insurance industry for, politically? Republicans. So if you want to protect the Republican base, you don't want that mandate to fall."
Whitehouse added that if the court had overturned Obamacare during the election year, Republicans would have lost the ability to campaign against the law.
"Plus you've got the benefit of taking a shot at the Commerce Clause and taking the economic dragooning shot that Roberts took," he said. "So, you build for the future and you protect your core Republican interest in the present and — I didn't get it published, but before it happened, I wrote an article called 'what would a partisan judge do' about this and predicted that outcome for that reason. Look behind the surface to the interests."
The Obamacare conversation took place in the context of Whitehouse saying that the Supreme Court's ruling in McCutcheon vs Federal Elections Commission shows that the conservative justices devise rulings that help Republicans.
"Anybody who looks at their rulings in the area of elections has to see a very very disturbing sight of 5-4 decisions, of precedent overruled, of extreme and unnecessary and in fact improper fact-finding, and ultimately all the needles point to the same direction, like every compass points true north, and it's always what advantages the current Republican Party," he said. "That's a tough place for a court to be and there are too many decisions for it to be happenstance."
The Obamacare ruling was also a 5-4 decision, with Roberts joining the four liberal Supreme Court justices to uphold the individual mandate, while the four remaining conservative justices voted to overturn the mandate.