The Supreme Court and the 2012 Election

In the 2011-2012 term, the Supreme Court is listening to arguments and deciding three cases that could be critical to the 2012 elections. In the span of between now and next June, challenges to Obamacare, the SR 1070, and Texas’s Congressional redistricting map will be decided. These decisions could drastically affect the course of the 2012 election, giving and removing arguments and areas of attack for both sides.

The Supreme Court deciding Obamacare could affect the race depending upon how it tilts. If the court rules that the law is constitutional, it would deprive the Republicans of a strong line of attack, mainly that the law is unconstitutional. As a result, it would strengthen Obama in the general election and give him a line of attack to fend of Republicans. On the flip side, if the law is ruled unconstitutional, it would validate the arguments that the Republicans have been using. With Obama’s signature achievement nullified, Republicans would be able to go on the offensive against Obama, using the argument to further their view that Obama is a big spending liberal who is fundamentally wrong for the country.

The second major Supreme Court case deals with Arizona law SR 1070. This is Arizona’s immigration law, which allows cops to question anyone suspected of being an illegal immigrant for proof of legal residence. Or rather, it would, if it hadn’t been blocked by a US District Court. The Supreme Court’s ruling on this issue could thrust immigration, which up until now has not been a major part of the political debate of the elections, into a greater role, in turn drawing attention to the Republican party’s stance on illegal immigration.

The final major Supreme Court case concerns the Texas Congressional redistricting map. The Texas legislature approved, and Governor Perry signed into law, a new set of maps as part of the once-a-decade redistricting process. Texas had gained four seats as a result of the 2010 Census’s realignment of seats across the country. The map approved by the legislature redistricts these seats in such a way that Republicans would probably gain three out of the four new seats. Democrats and Hispanic groups, however, have complained, and the case has moved through the courts as they have fought the new map. While the Supreme Court’s decision would not directly affect the 2012 presidential election, it would fundamental affect the balance of power in Washington in 2013 and 2014, as it could give either side more seats in the House of Representatives, and depending upon how the races across the country go, could affect control of the House in the next couple years. This in turn could make the job of whoever is elected in November either easier or harder depending upon the specifics.

Overall, this Supreme Court term is looking out to being a major factor in the Presidential race. Whichever way it rules on the various cases before it, it is bound to fundamentally influence the race, though whether for better or for worse is to be seen.

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  • shinnsm  On December 18, 2011 at 12:49 am

    Another interesting tidbit is that this will be the first presidential election since the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling. There is the potential for a lot more money to go into this presidential race than in years past, and corporations and political action committees will have more influence than ever.

    On the issue of Obamacare: If the individual mandate gets struck down, that would really make Obama look weak. Even if the Supreme Court rules it to be constitutional, Republicans will continue to call it unconstitutional and say the Supreme Court is too activist and not properly reading the Constitution. Obama has a lot more riding on that decision than the Republicans do.

  • kessledi  On December 18, 2011 at 5:35 pm

    I think that’s definitely true, especially about the Obamacare point. At the same time, with the Court deciding cases such as Citizen’s United, there is already arguments from liberals and Democrats that the court is too activist in the other direction. I think no matter which way the Supreme Court rules, both sides have quite a bit riding on the decision.

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