President Obama had a good week, the nation did not.
The president got his fast track approved for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, then ObamaCare was upheld for a second time by the Supreme Court, and gay marriage was declared to be constitutional throughout the land. Three wins for the White House.
Since the TPP isn’t called a treaty, it doesn’t require Senate approval, so the up-or-down vote by Congress is for show only – Team Obama is cleared to make any agreement they wish – and judged solely on past performance, that will probably turn out to be bad for the nation. For the second time, SCOTUS re-wrote the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to say something that Congress didn’t (and something that the president didn’t sign). In Obergefell v Hodges, the Court held that a gay couple married in Maryland could list one partner as “spouse” on insurance documents in Ohio, where gay marriage was banned.
So we have three wins for Mr Obama in the week – one of which clears the way for the weakest negotiators in American history to bind us to a deal with eleven other nations, the details of which are being kept secret from us; the second of which clearly oversteps the authority of the Supreme Court; and the third of which is a clean decision on equal protection grounds. So, in order: the bad, the ugly and the good.
The problem I have with fast track isn’t with fast track, but with the agreement that follows, which will likely supersede US law (which is unconstitutional) on things like right-to-work, carbon emissions, and immigration, among other things. I look for TPP to start another train of court cases headed for SCOTUS.
The whole ObamaCare morass had been a disaster for democracy from Day-1, and King has blossomed that into an embarrassment for the Court. The majority stated that they ruled so as not to throw the insurance industry into chaos – that’s not their job. A rightful ruling wouldn’t throw the industry into chaos, that would be the Democrats, who wrote, passed and signed bad law. As Chief Justice Roberts has previously claimed, it’s not the job of the Supreme Court to save us from our elected officials – which is exactly what the majority did in King v Burwell. In Obergefell, the Court came down on solid Fourteenth Amendment footing in granting equal protection to gay couples. Having said that, I don’t believe the government belongs in marriage – a creation of religion – in the first place. Civil unions, yes; marriage, no. But in the context of today’s muddled legal atmosphere, the Court made the right decision here.
As I say, a good week for the president, a bad one, net, for the country.