Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress:
If this court overturns the individual mandate, it will galvanize Democrats to use the courts as a campaign issue. The idea that we would have gone through Bush v. Gore, Citizens United and now this.
A computer sophisticated enough to calculate the infinitely unlikely odds of that happening has yet to be invented. The Court's striking down of the individual mandate would be exasperating, indeed infuriating, for Democrats. But to fashion, in whole or in part, an electoral campaign in a presidential year around a recondite anti-Court theme would be a colossal misstep, even for Democrats. No matter how infelicitous, comparisons inevitably would be made by Republicans to FDR's calamitous "Court packing" plan of '37 -- one of Roosevelt's relatively few but exceptionally ill-conceived political blunders.
At best, scattered reminders of a president's judicial-appointment power should come into play, but a resentment-dripping campaign by one branch (or two) of government against the federal judiciary would only compel a public reception imbued with boundless puzzlement, immeasurable indifference, or classically uninformed hostility. The American electorate's famed subliteracy has managed to interpret the individual mandate as monstrously unconstitutional; let's forbid all thought of what it could do with a public relitigation of "ObamaCare" or some byzantine debate over the legal concept of "judicial review."
What President Obama & Democrats could make clear is that "judicial activism" apparently means -- Whatever the hell conservatives say it means. This morning, E.J. Dionne says it for them:
[If] conservative justices ... strike down or cripple the health-care law ... [then the] court that gave us Bush v. Gore and Citizens United will prove conclusively that it sees no limits on its power, no need to defer to those elected to make our laws. A Supreme Court that is supposed to give us justice will instead deliver ideology.
Implicit, perhaps, in Dionne's assessment is an even more painful sentiment, writ quite large: that the Court's ObamaCare decision, along the ideological lines of a Citizens United, looms as a mere epiphenomenon; that is, that our entire governmental system -- from a clueless electorate to once-unthinkable presidential war-making powers to a House overflowing with cretinous schmendricks to a Senate seized by seemingly incurable dysfunction to a judicial branch that legally rules only as it politically votes -- is locked into an inescapable state of doom.
Or, maybe not (insert happy face here). At least we have till the end of June to make that call.