It’s human nature to try to find the silver lining in large adverse developments. But it’s been interesting to watch conservatives turn yesterday’s validation of the Affordable Care Act into a victory.
The most common “silver lining” rationales were that five Justices rejected the Commerce Clause rationale for ACA, which will provide the foundation for a judicial counter-revolution against Big Government somewhere down the road, and that the decision itself will galvanize “the base” and fuel a Republican landslide in November that will quickly settle Obama’s hash and lead to ACA’s repeal.
George Will most emphatically insisted on the “long run” constitutional “victory:”
The health care legislation’s expansion of the federal government’s purview has improved our civic health by rekindling interest in what this expansion threatens - the Framers’ design for limited government. Conservatives distraught about the survival of the individual mandate are missing the considerable consolation prize they won when the Supreme Court rejected a constitutional rationale for the mandate - Congress’ rationale - that was pregnant with rampant statism.
And Erick Erickson made the most succinct case for the idea that the decision would immediately produce a political victory for the Right, defending the Chief Justice by saying he “probably just handed Mitt Romney the White House.”
Had, of course, the Court gone the other way, that would have been a famous victory, too. But it’s a token of the Right’s current belief in its manifest destiny to govern—not at all typical of its historic attitude—that they aren’t spending nearly as much time rending garments over John Roberts’ apostasy as you might have expected, and are already focused on the next case—and the next election.
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