CNN's GUT CHECK | for March 27, 2012 | 5 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
BREAKING: THE LIVE SHOT HEARD AROUND THE WORLD … CNN’s Senior Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin, on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court moments after the close of arguments, said the individual mandate is in grave danger: “This was a train wreck for the Obama administration. This law looks like it is going to be struck down. I am telling you, all of the predictions, including mine, that the justices would not have a problem with this law were wrong. Justice Kennedy, the swing vote, was enormously skeptical. Justice Alito, Justice Scalia, were constantly skeptical. Justice Thomas didn’t say anything, but we know his position on this issue. The only conservative justice who looked like he might uphold the law was Chief Justice Roberts, who asked hard questions of both sides.”
DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST JAMES CARVILLE ON CNN’S "SITUATION ROOM" MOMENTS AGO: “I honestly believe this. This is not spin. I think this will be the best thing that has ever happened to the Democratic party."
The Obama administration hits back with three points, telling CNN’s Chief White House Correspondent Jessica Yellin they think the mandate will be upheld. Here’s how they make their case:
1. When the government presented in front of D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Laurence Silberman and 6 Circuit Judge Jeffrey Sutton, they got similarly skeptical questions. But in both cases the courts upheld the individual mandate.
2. They believe Roberts asked equally tough questions of both sides.
3. When the administration argued the Voting Rights Act before the Supreme Court in 2009, court watchers predicted they’d lose that case. They won 8-1. The court ruled on a far more narrow issue than court watchers expected.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? Wednesday’s arguments become even more interesting – can one part of the law be tossed without affecting the rest?
What is the origin of “a switch in time saves nine?” And how does it apply to the branch of government dominating the news today?
Medvedev to Romney: The Cold War is over.
What started as a political punch against the president (and his open mic moment) has turned into an international incident. How it happened and how it was covered is worth a minute of your time.
On CNN’s “The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer” Monday, Mitt Romney went on the offensive against President Barack Obama’s statement to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that Obama would have more “flexibility” on missile defense after his re-election. Romney criticized Obama, believing the president was suggesting to Russia “that he has things he's willing to do with them he's not willing to tell the American people, this is to Russia - this is without question our number one geopolitical foe.”
The blogosphere took off before the interview was over: “Romney says Russia is our No. 1 Foe” read headlines across the Web. The Romney campaign pushed back and urged people to read the rest of the transcript because Blitzer immediately pounced on the statement.
BLITZER: You think Russia is a bigger foe right now than, let's say, Iran or China or North Korea, is that what you're suggesting, governor?
ROMNEY: Well, I'm saying in terms of a geopolitical opponent, the nation which aligns with the world's famous actors. Of course, the greatest threat that the world faces is a nuclear Iran and nuclear North Korea is already troubling enough, but when these terrible actors pursue their course in the world and we go to the United Nations looking for ways to stop them, when Assad for instance is murdering its own people, we go to the United Nations and who is it that always stands up for the world's worst actors, it is always Russia, typically with China alongside.
Today at the nuclear summit in South Korea, the Russian president hit back at Romney’s worldview: “Regarding ideological cliches, every time this or that side uses phrases like 'enemy number one,’ this always alarms me, this smells of Hollywood. I would recommend all U.S. presidential candidates ... to do two things. First, when phrasing their position one needs to use one's head, one's good reason, which would not do harm to a presidential candidate. Also, look at his watch: We are in 2012 and not the mid-1970s."
We asked the Romney campaign for a response. Lanhee Chen, Romney’s policy director, doubled down on the geopolitical threat: “In contrast to President Obama, Gov. Romney is clear-eyed about the geopolitical challenges Russia poses. Russia’s nuclear arsenal, its energy resources, it geographic position astride Europe and Asia, the veto it wields on the U.N. Security Council, and the creeping authoritarianism of its government make Russia a unique geopolitical problem that frustrates progress on numerous issues of vital concern to the United States.”
The Romney campaign, however, separately published “An Open Letter to President Obama” on foreign policy that mentioned all of the nonRussia hot spots in the world, complete with a muscle flex of signatures to show that they are indeed backed by smart geopolitical thinkers.
We at Gut Check have a question for you: What if Sarah Palin had said that Russia “is without question our number one geopolitical foe?”
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics: Supreme Court divided over health care mandate
In one of the most highly anticipated Supreme Court hearings in years, the justices on Tuesday offered sharply divided views on the controversial individual mandate provision at the heart of the 2010 federal health care reform law.
Leading Drudge: OBAMACARE UNDER FIRE
The Supreme Court's conservative justices Tuesday laid into the requirement in the Obama administration's health care law that Americans have health insurance, as the court began a much-anticipated second day of arguments on the controversial legislation.
Leading HuffPo: OBAMA CARE ON THE BRINK
Sharp questioning by the Supreme Court's conservative justices cast serious doubt Tuesday on the survival of the individual insurance requirement at the heart of President Barack Obama's historic health care overhaul.
Leading Politico: Conservative justices skeptical of individual mandate
Conservative justices attacked the heart of President Barack Obama’s health care law Tuesday, expressing deep skepticism that the government can force Americans to buy insurance.
Leading New York Times: Hard Questions From Justices Over Insurance Mandate
With the fate of President Obama’s health care law hanging in the balance at the Supreme Court on Tuesday, a lawyer for the administration faced a barrage of skeptical questions from four of the court’s more conservative justices.
The political bites of the day
– Swing vote looks critical of health care reform –
SUPREME COURT JUSTICE ANTHONY KENNEDY SAID THIS AT TODAY’S HEALTH CARE HEARING: “Here the government is saying that the federal government has a duty to tell the individual citizen that it must act, and that is different from what we have in previous cases and that changes the relationship of the federal government to the individual in the very fundamental way.”
– Reid: I’ve been in court more than Toobin –
SEN. HARRY REID, D-NEVADA, MENTIONS JEFFREY TOOBIN IN HIS RESPONSE TO THE SUPREME COURT’S HEALTH CARE DEBATE: “I wouldn't bet on this, but I bet I've been in court a lot more than Jeffrey Toobin. And I've had arguments, Federal Circuit, Supreme Court, and hundreds of times before trials courts and the questions you get from judges doesn't mean that's what's going to wind up with the opinion.”
– Leahy scares seniors, tries to scare court –
SEN. PATRICK LEAHY, D-VERMONT, IN FRONT OF THE SUPREME COURT AFTER THE HEARING: “I think it is a clear-cut case. I think you have to really stretch to say this was unconstitutional, but Social Security, for example, or Medicare is constitutional. If you say this is unconstitutional then you have to say Social Security and Medicare are also unconstitutional. I don’t sure the Court is prepared to do that.”
– Gingrich would be “delighted” to support Romney… –
NEWT GINGRICH SAID THIS AT A CAMPAIGN STOP IN ANNAPOLIS, MARYLAND: “Gov. Romney is the front-runner but is a long way from a majority. We have had 10 million people vote so far in the primaries, about four million voted for Romney, six million voted for people other than Romney. If he does get, by the time Utah votes on the 26th of June, if he gets a majority, obviously I will support him and will be delighted to do everything I can to help defeat Barack Obama”
– Conan takes on swearing Santorum, ‘panicked Mitt’ –
CONAN O’BRIEN SAID THIS ON HIS LATE-NIGHT TALK SHOW “CONAN”: “Rick Santorum said you aren't a real Republican until you've sworn to someone at The New York Times. Moments later, a panicked Mitt Romney called The New York Times' reception desk and said, ‘heck.’”
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
Jeffrey Toobin (@JeffreyToobin)
Train wreck for @barackobama in #supremecourt today.
Ana Marie Cox (@anamariecox)
Rick Santorum will do anything to keep Romney from the presidency, right down to being his running mate.
Nate Silver (@fivethirtyeight)
Campaign cycle getting so dull that I gave up on life and just filed a Veepstakes piece.
Oliver Willis (@owillis)
How many of you have a lobbyist... FOR YOUR HOUSE? Mitt, put your hand down.
Most people in Washington have had their eyes on the U.S. Supreme Court today – and Gut Check is no different. The switch described in the phrase “a switch in time saves nine,” describes a sort of jurisprudential flip-flop by Justice Owen Roberts that went on to save the integrity and independence of the court. When President Franklin D. Roosevelt saw his New Deal being threatened by the court, he decided to take matters into his own hands and “pack the court.” Roosevelt proposed a court-reform bill to Congress, legislation that would have expanded the Supreme Court bench from nine justices (the current number) to 15 justices. In one of the New Deal cases, West Coast Hotel v. Parrish, the court was deciding whether a state minimum wage law was constitutional. In an effort to appease Roosevelt and minimize support for reorganizing the court, Roberts upheld the state minimum wage even though he had consistently b een against New Deal legislation. The flip-flop (a switch) at a critical juncture (in time) went on to keep the court the way it had been (saves nine).
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