Here’s an interesting bit from the latest trove of Clinton campaign emails leaked out Thursday morning: Clinton operatives were conspiring in June 2015 on how to best threaten the Supreme Court to rule their way in King v. Burwell, the case that could have effectively ended ObamaCare.
On June 2, 2015, Neera Tanden, the president of the leftist Center for American Progress, emailed Clinton advisor Jake Sullivan her thoughts on how to put the most pressure on the Supreme Court to rule in favor of ObamaCare.
Basically, she wrote, scaring the Court would be the best tactic:
As Jennifer will remember, it was pretty critical that the President threw the gauntlet down last time on the Court, warning them in the first case that it would politicize the role of the Court for them to rule against the ACA. As a close reader of the case, I honestly believe that was vital to scaring Roberts off.
Tanden went on to strategize that the campaign would have to make the Supreme Court aware of “negative political consequences to ruling against the government,” which it could do by planting stories about how Clinton would turn the Supreme Court into an election issue:
Therefore, I think it would be helpful to have a story of how progressives and Hillary would make the Supreme Court an election issue (which would be a ready argument for liberals) if the Court rules against the government. It’s not that you wish that happens. But that would be the necessary consequence of a negative decision…the Court itself would become a hugely important political issue.
“We can get that story started,” Tanden helpfully suggested, but acknowledged it “rests on you guys to make it stick.” In subsequent emails on the thread, Jennifer Palmieri (communications director) approved of the approach, while Brian Fallon (press secretary) offered his help in getting the story out there.
The message to the Supreme Court? Vote against us, and you’ll regret it.
So, in sum, the Clinton campaign was colluding with the Center for American progress to get stories written about the backlash at the polls if the Supreme Court overthrew ObamaCare – and they specifically mention that Obama’s threats to the Court in 2012 helped “scare off” Chief Justice John Roberts.
Obama did “throw down the gauntlet” in a sense, directly warning the “unelected” Justices against an “unprecedented” ruling of “judicial activism.” Indeed, the day after that April 2012 speech, one GOP Senator openly accused Obama of threatening the Supreme Court:
“What President Obama is doing here isn’t right. It is threatening, it is intimidating.”
But, according to Clinton world, that strategy worked in 2012 – and they were willing to do it again in 2015. In the days and weeks after that email conversation, you can see how the King v. Burwell story was framed by the media and by Democrats pushing their narrative: the Constitutional arguments don’t matter. Think of the political backlash!
Of course, no one who closely follows the Clintons’ trench warfare style of politics should be surprised by their attempt to bully the Supreme Court. It’s just another piece in a massive game of chess.
But it is refreshing to see Clinton allies admit it with such candor.