When the court overturned the NRA in 1935, it was a shock — but it was also a unanimous decision and, despite FDR's pique, not really a surprising ruling given existing precedent. Overturning ACA would be a whole different kind of game changer. It would mean that the Supreme Court had officially entered an era where they were frankly willing to overturn liberal legislation just because they don't like it. Pile that on top of Bush v. Gore and Citizens United and you have a Supreme Court that's pretty explicitly chosen up sides in American electoral politics. This would be, in no uncertain terms, no longer business as usual.
Me, from a year ago:
[E.J. Dionne asks] "At what point do we decide that a political system has become decadent?"
My personal breaking point? ... I heard my first unmistakable crack a bit more than 10 years ago, when a colossally corrupt U.S. Supreme Court not only single-handedly determined that the ineffably dimwitted George W. Bush should be president of these United States, but that its reasoning process in arriving at that staggering electoral insult should be forever regarded by future courts as sui generis, since the reasoning process was, like George W. Bush, so ineffably dimwitted. I consoled myself at the time with historical coddling: from county clerkships to the U.S. presidency, the American art of stealing elections has been a long and noble one; and besides, quite often the racketeering thiefs turned out to be not half bad as respectable officeholders.
So even though I had heard a crack -- even though I had, in fact, suffered an undeniable breaking point -- I further consoled myself with the Twainian thought that, like Wagner, perhaps Bush would be better than he sounded. Oh, what a misjudgment, or rather, what a false hope. He was worse, far worse, as in galactically far worse, and behind him he harbored a Congress-full of either likeminded ideological nincompoops or spinelessly loyal oppositionists willing to grant their imprimatur to virtually every imbecilic Bushian impulse.
I reiterate my contention of the Bush v. Gore decision as our seminal decadence. Reagan's deficit-launching, supply-sided ruination was one thing, Goldwater's incubation of an intoxicated New Right another, and before any of that nonsense, McCarthyism and Bircherism--ideological and temperamental precursors of tea partyism--were quite another.
But in Bush v. Gore we suffered an unmitigated theft of democratic expression. Although we concealed our humiliation well, we never--or so I would further contend--overcame our quiet pain of having sat and watched a panel of intellectually fraudulent despots steal our national self-determination right out from under us. We were bullied, and we took it like cowering children. From this, the despots took the same lesson that all bullies take from quivering capitulation: They came back. In Citizens United they came back, and now it appears--words I hope to soon eat--they'll return in overturning the Affordable Care Act.
But it's worse than that, much worse. Bush v. Gore set the United States on course of a political degradation like we've never seen--the embrace of torture as national policy, chiefly, but also unprovoked war, warrantless domestic surveillance and the brazen pillaging of the public treasury.
We can and should blame the Bush administration for these new and permanent lows, but we've the Supreme Court to thank.