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On health care, Supreme Court's final word may not be final

Discussion in 'Social, Political and Legal Matters' started by grape ape, Mar 11, 2012.

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    On health care, Supreme Court's final word may not be final

    By JENNIFER HABERKORN | 3/11/12 5:37 PM EDT

    In two weeks, the U.S. Supreme Court takes up the case that could lead to the biggest “I told you so” of 2012.

    The challenge to President Barack Obama’s health care reform law will result in the court either upholding it — giving bragging rights to Obama and congressional Democrats — or finding major pieces of it unconstitutional, setting off a political earthquake that would vindicate Republicans and conservative groups.

    Both sides will start to lay the groundwork for that ruling during six hours of oral arguments, which will spread over three days beginning March 26. And when that ruling comes down, probably in June, the winners will try to make it sound like the final word.

    But everyone knows that’s a fantasy. The Supreme Court will have the last word on the legal issues, at least the major ones. The political fight will go on for years — if it ever really ends.

    The lawsuit brought by 26 states and the National Federation of Independent Business is shaping up to be the most high-profile Supreme Court case since Bush v. Gore — complete with rallies and protests, just like the ones that surrounded that case.

    The Tea Party Patriots will be there, with a rally on Capitol Hill the weekend before the arguments. And Americans for Prosperity is having a “Hands Off My Health Care” rally at the Supreme Court on March 27 — the day the court is supposed to hear arguments on the individual mandate. The list is likely to grow.

    For Republicans, a ruling striking the individual mandate would validate their two-year drumbeat against “Obamacare” and allow them to charge Obama — a former constitutional law professor — with pushing his policies through unconstitutional means.

    For Democrats, a ruling upholding the law would serve as the ultimate stamp of approval on their landmark health reform law and allow them to accuse Republicans of wasting two years fighting a law that is constitutional.

    For the public, it’s a question about who had the right leadership judgment, said Robert Blendon, a Harvard School of Public Health expert on public opinion and health policy.

    “It’s become a huge symbolic issue of [whether] the president pushed legislation that is constitutional or not,” Blendon said in an interview. “It will have a significant impact on the election in that it will really affect, to some degree, how people see the president and Republican leadership.”

    That doesn’t mean the public will put a huge amount of trust in the Supreme Court’s decision. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll in January found that 59 percent of respondents think the justices will be swayed by their ideological views. Only 28 percent thought they’d actually decide based on straight, unbiased legal analysis.

    But no matter which way the decision comes down, the opponents may have won a victory already because the case will shine massive media attention on the complaints about the law, both during the oral arguments and when a decision comes down.

    “The challengers have already succeeded in one of their major goals: visibility on these issues,” said Kevin Walsh, a University of Richmond law professor and a former law clerk to Justice Antonin Scalia.

    The 2012 election only increases the stakes for the Obama administration. And so far, the law isn’t helping Obama in the states where he needs help the most.

    Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0312/73864.html#ixzz1or1aWaVC
     

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