The Washington Post

Citizen Kennedy

Apparently, it did not go too well for the Obama administration in the Supreme Court’s oral arguments today. Based on the tough questions they posed, the five most conservative justices, including swing voter Anthony M. Kennedy, look like probable votes to strike down the individual mandate, though you can never be sure. So much for those confident predictions from law professors, to the effect that this was an easy case that the administration might win 8-1.

Justice Kennedy, of course, is the author of the court’s opinion in Citizens United, the 2010 decision that struck down restrictions on political expenditures by corporations and unions. Citizens United brought about huge denunciations of the court, mostly from Democrats — and including this memorable public tongue-lashing from President Obama in his 2010 State of the Union Address, in which the president accused the court of “opening the floodgates” to foreign influence over US elections.

You can relive that moment in this video. Please note that, sitting in the front row, silently absorbing the president’s national televised scolding, and the uproar from Democratic senators that followed, is none other than Justice Anthony M. Kennedy.

But I am sure that will have nothing to do with the way he looks at the health care case.

Charles Lane is a Post editorial writer, specializing in economic policy, federal fiscal issues and business, and a contributor to the PostPartisan blog.


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