The Obama administration awaits two key rulings from the Supreme Court, which will almost certainly come at the end of their term in June. The White House played defense on their key legislative victory, ObamaCare, and went on offense against Arizona’s immigration-enforcement law. Neither set of oral arguments went well for Team Obama, and the White House is expected to lose at least some ground on both. Will that become a political liability in the fall for Barack Obama’s re-election efforts — or a boon? Brit Hume told the Fox News Sunday roundtable that two losses would damage Obama, and that it’s folly to argue otherwise:
“And I think — I don’t think there is some pre-cushioned bank shot where people argue, ‘Well, it would take the issue off of the table and that would be good for him,’ and so forth. I don’t buy that. I think that the Arizona law may be in even more trouble with the court than the health care law. I don’t think it is as important, or is as essential as the health care law. But I don’t think it would help him either to have his position in the enforcement of the immigration laws resisted by the Supreme Court. It is embarrassing, and it also gives that Arizona law a kind of a boost in the public’s imagination.”
While some analysts have said a ruling against Obama on health care could give Obama a fresh start for the upcoming presidential campaign, Hume isn’t buying that. He cited the much higher approval rating of the Supreme Court than the executive or legislative branches.
“The Supreme Court now enjoys, in the public’s imagination, higher ratings than any other branch of government. Now the Supreme Court is more controversial than perhaps it once was … but it has positive approval ratings which in Washington is remarkable,” he said. “I don’t think this president comes out well if he is in a pitched battle of some kind, or picks one with one institution in town that people mostly respect — particularly after it struck down couple of positions that he has taken that are central to his outlook.”
Actually, I think that just the mere existence of these two cases help the GOP. If Obama loses both cases, Republicans can use it to paint Obama and his agenda as extreme and at odds with the Constitution. If Obama wins both cases, he gains a little, but Republicans can then argue that nothing short of removing Obama from office, as well as many of his Democratic colleagues, will stop his unpopular agenda from going forward. Either way, Mitt Romney has a perfect opportunity to remind everyone of the power to appoint Supreme Court justices in the next four years as a means to incentivize still-reluctant conservatives to rally to his campaign.
Or, as I like to put it on my show, consider these frightening five words when insisting that voting for Romney makes no change: Supreme Court Justice Eric Holder. Feel free to replace Holder with Kathleen Sebelius or any other Obama administration figure one prefers. There will be two or three openings in the next four years, and the person in the White House gets to make those decisions. That’s the real power of these cases, and to some extent the eventual decisions aren’t entirely relevant to its strength.