The Supreme Court rules this week on the Affordable Care Act in what many believe will be, at the very least, the striking down of the individual mandate provision of the law. Some thoughts…
The System – James Fallows
You can try this at home. Pick a country and describe a sequence in which:
- First, the presidential election is decided by five people, who don’t even try to explain their choice in normal legal terms.
- Then the beneficiary of that decision appoints the next two members of the court, who present themselves for consideration as restrained, humble figures who care only about law rather than ideology.
- Once on the bench, for life, those two actively second-guess and re-do existing law, to advance the interests of the party that appointed them.
- Meanwhile their party’s representatives in the Senate abuse procedural rules to an extent never previously seen to block legislation — and appointments, especially to the courts.
- And, when a major piece of legislation gets through, the party’s majority on the Supreme Court prepares to negate it — even though the details of the plan were originally Republican proposals and even though the party’s presidential nominee endorsed these concepts only a few years ago.
How would you describe a democracy where power was being shifted that way?
‘Dysfunctional’ comes to mind…as does ‘corrupted’.
The Verdict – Bob Drummond
The U.S. Supreme Court should uphold a law requiring most Americans to have health insurance if the justices follow legal precedent, according to 19 of 21 constitutional law professors who ventured an opinion on the most-anticipated ruling in years.
Only eight of them predicted the court would do so.
“The precedent makes this a very easy case,” said Christina Whitman, a University of Michigan law professor. “But the oral argument indicated that the more conservative justices are striving to find a way to strike down the mandate.”
A fitting followup after they struck down campaign financing legislation and opened the doors to a handful of billionaires to purchase control of the White House and Congress.
The Obama Response To A Negative Verdict – Michael Tomasky
Almost never before in American history has a Supreme Court taken a law duly passed by the people’s representatives and in just two years’ time invalidated it. If that isn’t legislating from the bench, what is? Mr. Cool needs to get Hot. Against unanimous and ferocious opposition, and in the face of blatant lies about what this bill would and would not do, he and the Democrats came up with a way for people with cancer and diabetes and what have you to get the treatment they need and not be either turned away or gouged. He’s proud of that, he ought to say, and by God, he’s going to fight for it. That provision of the law is wildly popular—85 percent supported that, in a late-March New York Times survey. If you can’t play offense with 85 percent of the people behind you, I give up.
In sum, the Democrats should see an adverse decision as a chance to put the other guys—the Republicans in Congress, Romney, and the court’s ideological majority—on the defensive. It is what Republicans would do; they’d bay endlessly about an “out of control” court and all the rest. It’s one of the key psychological differences between conservatives and liberals. When conservatives suffer a political setback, they prowl the terrain like lions, looking for a few necks to bite. When liberals suffer one, they ball up like kittens and ask themselves, “Oh, gee, what did we do wrong?”
Unfortunately, regardless of the President’s response, true health care reform will never become a reality for as long as Republicans have a say about it in Congress…and in the courts. A Romney victory in November puts him in place to appoint the next Supreme Court justice ensuring that United Citizens and (likely) Affordable Care Act type decisions will be the norm for the next 20 years.
(The Supreme Court building source photograph is a Creative Commons licensed image from photographer Matt Wade.)