About 50 percent of the country thinks that the Supreme Court’s decision on the Affordable Care Act and its individual mandate will be based mainly on the Justices’ partisan views, not the legal merits. From Washington Post:
More Americans think Supreme Court justices will be acting mainly on their partisan political views than on a neutral reading of the law when they decide the constitutionality of President Obama’s health-care law, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
Half of the public expects the justices to rule mainly based on their “partisan political views,” while fewer, 40 percent, expect their decisions to be rooted primarily “on the basis of the law.” The rest say both equally or do not have an opinion.
Even though the poll found the new health care law is not popular, 39% support – 53% opposed, and 67% want to see all or at least part of the law struck down, the American people are open to the argument that the Supreme Court’s ultimate decision will be politically motivated judicial overreach.
This is probably why you are seeing President Obama already describing a possible ruling against his signature law as “judicial activism” and “unprecedented.”
Obama has had a very tough time defending his unpopular health care law on its merits, so he would probably be on better political footing characterizing any adverse decision as about the Court’s partisan biases instead of the law. If the Court rules against the law, it’s in Obama’s interest to have the media conversation that week focus mainly on the misused power of a partisan Court majority, and not about the merits of this unpopular law.
Trying to turn the Court’s ruling on the ACA into a broader conversation involving other unpopular recent rulings like Citizen United is probably the Obama team’s best option for making the most of some possibly very bad news.