AG's get some payoff in Obamacare challenge

NY Times:
Few handicappers gave a band of Republican attorneys general much chance of success when they filed a constitutional challenge to President Obama’s health care lawjust minutes after it was signed on March 23, 2010. Some mocked them, while others largely ignored them.
But by the time the Supreme Court issued its landmark ruling to uphold the law on Thursday, the litigation hatched by conservative state legal officials like Bill McCollum, who was Florida’s attorney general, had attracted a legitimacy born of shifting scholarly opinion, early victories in strategically selected lower courts and popular discontent spurred by the Tea Party.
While they fell short of their ultimate goal, they got much farther than almost anyone had predicted, and can claim significant victories — both legal and political. The intellectual underpinning of the litigation had always been the argument that the health care law’s individual insurance mandate was an unconstitutional use of Congress’s authority to regulate commerce. On that score, the attorneys general won, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. the deciding vote.
...
There were other upsides for conservatives in the 5-to-4 ruling. The attorneys general gained flexibility for their states in deciding whether to help pay for a coming Medicaid expansion, and the decision that the individual mandate constitutes a tax handed political ammunition to opponents of Mr. Obama and Democrats in Congress.
Moreover, the loose confederation of opponents — Republican officials from 26 states, party operatives, Federalist Society lawyers, conservative law professors, business leaders and Tea Party advocates — prompted a national conversation that helped keep health care near the top of the domestic agenda in both the 2010 and 2012 campaigns. And it prevented the Obama administration from gaining traction in promoting the benefits of the law.
“It’s kept them on defense,” said Henry McMaster, an early organizer of the group when he was South Carolina’s attorney general.
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The litigation arose out of conservative outrage in late 2009 over the so-called Cornhusker kickback, a $100 million Medicaid deal for Nebraska designed to win the vote of that state’s Democratic senator, Ben Nelson, for the plan. That legislative move riled Mr. McMaster into organizing conference calls with counterparts in other states. Public outcry and the threat of litigation helped kill the deal, with Mr. Nelson calling Mr. McMaster on New Year’s Eve to ask, “What do I need to do to call the dogs off?”
But even earlier, the attorneys general had shifted to a pet concern that Mr. McCollum had been raising relentlessly in the calls: the individual mandate.
... 
There is now outrage at the mandate tax.  The case is already stirring the passions of opponents and will lead to an eagerness to vote against Obama and Democrats at every level of government.  Opponents now know they their only hope is to defeat Obama and also win the Senate and House.  I think they can't wait to vote against the Democrats who created this monstrosity.

All this case did is cement Obama's legacy of liberalism and has made him one of he most divisive politicians around these days.

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