Can legal loss = political win? -

Can legal loss = political win?


The US Supreme Court is expected to rule next week on the constitutional challenge to the health care reform that is a centerpiece of Obama’s term as president. (Legal briefs concerning the ‘individual mandate’ issue are here.)

My story in Maclean’s gives a taste of the way activists on both sides of the issue are preparing to turn a potential courthouse loss into a winning issue at the ballot box in November.

From the Left:

If the justices strike down the mandate it would “deflate the Democrats somewhat—unless there is a real bold move by the President,” says John Hlinko, a Democratic strategist and founder of Left Action, a large network of progressive grassroots activists. “He could say, ‘They struck down the mandate? Okay, then it’s time to have Medicare for all.’ ” Hlinko hopes the President will seize the issue of Canadian-style health care and motivate the Democratic base. “I would say, ‘We tried to compromise. We tried the individual mandate. And now it’s time for what we know to be the best system, which is single-payer. And I would push that even if there is no hope of getting it passed.’ ”

From the Right:

“If they strike it all down, it’s a huge victory for the Tea Party grassroots—we’ll do a victory dance on Pennsylvania Avenue,” said Dean Clancy, vice-president of health care policy for Freedom Works, a Tea Party-aligned advocacy group.

“If they uphold all of it, it’s a huge energizer for us to work to elect politicians who will repeal it,” said Clancy, the conservative. “And if they strike down the individual mandate and leave the rest of the law—then it’s a huge victory and an energizer to complete the job of full repeal.”


It’ll be interesting to see whether or not the side that wins the court room battle will win the political war.

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