The Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision upholding the Obama administration’s health care legislation was a victory for the president, his administration and his party. Their most ambitious legislative achievement has not been nullified, and they are not left in obvious disarray.
But it is only a partial victory and in some ways not a victory at all, both in the short run electorally and in the long run in terms of the constitutional order.
Politically Obamacare, as its critics call it, remains highly unpopular. It’s possible that the court decision will boost its support, but unlikely.
Most voters want this law repealed. Mitt Romney and the Republicans want to repeal it. Barack Obama and the Democrats want to preserve it. It’s not a winning issue for the incumbent.
Constitutionally, many conservatives are unhappy that Chief Justice Roberts and the four justices generally considered liberal voted to uphold the mandate to buy health insurance as a tax, which Congress is clearly empowered to levy.