Ever since the United States Supreme Court heard arguments about Obamacare’s constitutionality in late March, speculation has been rife that the Justices will strike down the individual mandate. The predictions rest on a single assertion: That individuals have never before been required, under the authority of the Commerce Clause, to purchase a product or service from a private party. In other words, that there is no precedent for a “purchase mandate.” The assertion is inaccurate.
Campaign finance laws have now gone 0 for 5 in the Roberts Court. Monday’s Supreme Court decision striking down the matching funds portion of Arizona’s voluntary public financing law—which provided extra public financing for candidates facing free-spending opponents or major outside spending—was no surprise. Indeed, I predicted laws like Arizona’s were doomed back in 2008, on the day the Court struck down a portion of the McCain-Feingold law which raised contribution limits for candidates facing millionaire opponents.
For a while there, it was looking like we were going to spend the next four years arguing whether Barack Obama’s foreign policy was actually different than George W. Bush’s. As I noted the other day, Robert Kagan, the neoconservative foreign policy adviser to the McCain campaign, has been arguing that “the pretense of radical change has required some sleight of hand.” A few former Bush officials have made similar points.