SCOTUS To Hear ‘Obamacare’ Challenge

In one of the most politically-sensitive moves since the Bush-Gore hearing of 2000, the Supreme Court- currently considered to be predominantly liberal- has agreed to hear a series of cases, primarily Florida et al v. United States Department of Health and Human Services, in order to decide the constitutionality, or lack thereof, of the individual mandate provision in Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly known as ‘Obamacare’.

The Supreme Court, which voted to hear the anti-Obamacare case in the spring of 2012

So much for the legalese- what does this mean? It means that in the spring of next year, the Supreme Court will hear, for five and a half hours, as opposed to the usual 90 minutes, the arguments of the National Federation of Independent Business, the Department of Justice, and the 26 states that have rejected parts of the Act as to its unconstitutionality. And this means business.

The case, which has wound its way through various lower-level courts, is focused on whether the “commerce clause” (that Congress has the power “to regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian tribes”) empowers it to compel citizens to purchase a product- in this case, health care. If sustained, the current ruling, coming from the 11th Circuit of Appeals court in Atlanta, will overturn the individual mandate portion of the Affordable Care Act, and will therefore dis-empower the Act to no small degree.

The downside of all of this for Obama? Well, the decision is likely to be released mid- to late-June: right smack dab in the middle of the traditional presidential campaign season. Political analysts are already hard at work trying to predict the outcome of such a large part of his legacy thus far being overturned in the middle of the run-up to Election Day, and for Democrats, the numbers aren’t pretty.

Publicly, the White House has announced its confidence that the Act will be found constitutional: “We know the Affordable Care Act is constitutional and are confident the Supreme Court will agree,” said Dan Pfeiffer, the White House communications director.

That said, the Republican party leadership has affirmed its continued efforts to “repeal and replace” the Act, regardless of the decision of the Supreme Court. “We will continue to work to repeal it,” said Michael Steel, Speaker of the House Boehner’s spokesman. Senator Grassley of Iowa and former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi have written to Chief Justice Roberts regarding the case, both recommending that the case, in its entirety, be televised live. No word has come from the Supreme Court as to the likelihood of this. Democrat and former Majority Leader Tom Daschle summed up the view of many lawmakers, unsure of how the challenge will affect health-care politics in his statement that  “either way it rules, the Supreme Court decision will not end the debate on health care.”

And indeed, the debate will not doubt rage on.

–Sebastian Bates, World-News Correspondent 

Posted by on December 6, 2011. Filed under World News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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