Add the Washington Post's Jonathan Bernstein to the large list of pundits recognizing the critical importance of the Supreme Court as an election issue. He writes:
But as important as [the survival of the Affordable Care Act] is, I don't think it's the No. 1 thing at stake.
That thing is the Supreme Court.
It's likely that the next president will replace at least one justice. If Mitt Romney wins next month and his party benefits from an improved economy by 2016 (not a certain scenario, but one that wouldn't be surprising), then we're talking about eight years and a very good chance of putting four justices on the bench.
Mitt Romney has promised to fill the Supreme Court with extremists like Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Chief Justice John Roberts. These four have, time and again, bent the law and confounded logic in order to benefit big corporations. In contrast, President Obama has a track record of nominating thoughtful and moderate Justices like Sonya Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.
On every issue that's at stake in the election, whether it's the economy or executive power in national security or climate or yes, health care, a court in which Chief Justice John Roberts is the median voter would be enormously different from one in which, say, Elena Kagan is in the middle.
In an America transformed by a Romney Court, power would flow to the already-powerful, and the middle class would be even more vulnerable and at risk.