By all accounts, the Supreme Court will be striking down Obamacare by a 5-4 vote along so-called political lines. Armageddon should be handed down in the form of this opinion in late June. Like obituaries, I’m sure many a news outlet already have a good chunk of their script written for that day. If one were to make a tag cloud for the news coverage, I’m guessing you’ll see the word “conservative” in 64 point font.
The current administration has already signaled its willingness to use this moment for political expediency to score points for the next election. I get it. And I even have a fairly non-cynical explanation. If you truly believe that the country needs you to be President, then it doesn’t matter how you do it…you must win. If running against the Supreme Court is how you win, then you must do that too.
This is not the first time the Supreme Court will face political controversy. But with the increasing concentration of power in the executive branch and the saturation of news coverage thanks to cable news, talk radio, and the internet, are we prepared for the consequences of a more politicized court system?
Think back to Bush v. Gore. Regardless of your preferred outcome, it was a meaningful statement about America’s system of government. Most other countries in the world would have seen rising armies and faced an existential crisis on the highest order of magnitude. Yet here, the Court spoke and the country moved on in every meaningful way.
I don’t mean to suggest that the President’s action will bring about a civil war. Not at all. But the bully pulpit is a powerful thing. And a call for less public confidence in this institution–egged on by another branch of government for short term political gains–will have effect down the line. My question is are we prepared for the consequences?