Despite the pundit class' best efforts to predict today's health-care decision, the Supreme Court still managed to pack a few surprises in.
Let's get the big surprise of the morning out of the way: the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act (ACA). So unexpected was the result that two major news outlets -- CNN and Fox News -- both reported the wrong outcome before quickly correcting themselves. Minutes before the decision was handed down, Intrade investors had practically written off the mandate, giving it a 69.8 percent chance of being overturned. The expectations game was heavily conditioned by the oral argument that took place back in March, when the court's open skepticism toward the mandate convinced many onlookers that the government's case wasn't nearly as airtight as it seemed.
But beyond the case's outcome itself, three other things happened that virtually nobody foresaw. Here they are:
Chief Justice John Roberts sided with his liberal colleagues. As many correctly predicted, the vote tally came out very, very close -- a 5-4 decision. But Roberts, being a George W. Bush appointee and having helped move the court to the right with such controversial decisions as Citizens United, was largely assumed to be sympathetic to anti-ACA arguments. And it was Justice Kennedy who was considered the swing voter on the court. Yet when it came down to it, Kennedy sided with the conservatives, coming out strongly opposed to the individual mandate and all the rest of it.