Supremes to rule on Obamacare

The Supreme Court will hear challenges to Obamacare and will hand down a decision probably in July, which will be before the election:

The Supreme Court agreed on Monday to decide the fate of President Barack Obama’s healthcare law, with an election-year ruling due by July on the U.S. healthcare system’s biggest overhaul in nearly 50 years.

A Supreme Court spokeswoman said oral arguments would take place in March. There will be a total of 5-1/2 hours of argument. The court would be expected to rule during its current session, which lasts through June.

The decision had been widely expected since September, when the Obama administration asked the country’s highest court to uphold the centerpiece insurance provision and 26 of the 50 states separately asked that the entire law be struck down.

At the heart of the legal battle is whether the U.S. Congress overstepped its powers by requiring all Americans to buy health insurance by 2014 or pay a penalty, a provision known as the individual mandate.

Legal experts and policy analysts said the healthcare vote may be close on the nine-member court, with five conservatives and four liberals. It could come down to moderate conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy, who often casts the decisive vote.

The law, aiming to provide medical coverage to more than 30 million uninsured Americans, has wide ramifications for company costs and for the health sector, affecting health insurers, drugmakers, device companies and hospitals.

A decision by July would take the healthcare issue to the heart of a presidential election campaign that ends with a vote on Nov. 6 next year. Polls show Americans deeply divided over the overhaul, Obama’s signature domestic achievement.

via UPDATE 4-US top court to take on Obama healthcare law | Reuters.

Any predictions on what the ruling will be?  And, either way, what impact will a decision have on the presidential election?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    My take: I believe the law as a whole will stand, but parts of it will be stricken down.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    My take: I believe the law as a whole will stand, but parts of it will be stricken down.

  • Richard

    My take as well; parts of it will be struck down, but the law as a whole will stay. And the ruling will be an election issue on both sides.

  • Richard

    My take as well; parts of it will be struck down, but the law as a whole will stay. And the ruling will be an election issue on both sides.

  • Michael B.

    I predict that the law will be upheld, but lets say parts of it are struck down or even all of it were struck down. I don’t understand how one can be so against the new health care plan and yet have nothing to say against the old one. How are Medicare and Medicaid not socialized medicine? Nearly everyone over 65 qualifies for Medicare, regardless of how much they’ve paid in. And Medicaid is a hand-out based on need.

    There are a lot of working men who can’t get health insurance, and I knew one who really needed it. He was just out of college and had a full-time job that didn’t cover health insurance, and didn’t have enough to pay for it himself. Yet, he was still taxed to pay for old people over 65 getting health care, and welfare mothers to get it. How is this fair? I would think he’s at a minimum entitled to the same health care that people on welfare get. Obama’s health care plan extends coverage to people like him, by allowing him to stay on his parent’s health care plan for a while. There’s no reason we should privilege welfare mothers, their children, and the elderly over every one else.

  • Michael B.

    I predict that the law will be upheld, but lets say parts of it are struck down or even all of it were struck down. I don’t understand how one can be so against the new health care plan and yet have nothing to say against the old one. How are Medicare and Medicaid not socialized medicine? Nearly everyone over 65 qualifies for Medicare, regardless of how much they’ve paid in. And Medicaid is a hand-out based on need.

    There are a lot of working men who can’t get health insurance, and I knew one who really needed it. He was just out of college and had a full-time job that didn’t cover health insurance, and didn’t have enough to pay for it himself. Yet, he was still taxed to pay for old people over 65 getting health care, and welfare mothers to get it. How is this fair? I would think he’s at a minimum entitled to the same health care that people on welfare get. Obama’s health care plan extends coverage to people like him, by allowing him to stay on his parent’s health care plan for a while. There’s no reason we should privilege welfare mothers, their children, and the elderly over every one else.

  • Bob

    I believe it will be a tie.

    Then Diana Ross will cast the winning vote, in favor of universal health care.

  • Bob

    I believe it will be a tie.

    Then Diana Ross will cast the winning vote, in favor of universal health care.

  • DonS

    Unfortunately, a likely scenario is that expected by J. Dean and Richard above. The Court will strike down the individual mandate, which is clearly unconstitutional, but sever and retain other parts of the law, because the swing vote justices don’t have the courage to do what is right. There is no severability clause in the law (it was drafted in haste by Democrat leaders who were intent on ramming this law down the throats of the people, who were polling against it). Moreover, since it requires providers to insure everyone and to cover all pre-existing conditions, the system will clearly collapse without a legitimate mandate forcing the healthy to purchase insurance. But, they will more likely than not still take this approach, if they decide to rule on the merits at all.

    Another likely option for the Court is to declare the mandate a tax, despite Democratic leaders and the Obama administration’s insistence during debate on the bill that it was not a tax, and to therefore declare that it has no jurisdiction to decide the issue until someone is actually forced to pay the tax. Judges on lower courts have already taken this view, and the courts love kicking the can down the road. Of course, since the mandate doesn’t take effect until 2014 taxes are due in 2015, a ruling at that time will be useless. We will have already ruined any semblance of private health care in this country, and bureaucrats will be fully in charge of deciding whether you should get care for your particular malady. That’s comforting, isn’t it? Hope the state finds you to be important.

    Another issue will be whether Elena Kagan follows the law, which clearly requires her to recuse herself, because of her service as Solicitor General while the Administration was pushing passage of the law. So far, despite the fact that the White House has now, under subpoena, released emails showing Kagan celebrating the law’s passage, she has not indicated that she is going to do the right thing.

    Should be interesting.

  • DonS

    Unfortunately, a likely scenario is that expected by J. Dean and Richard above. The Court will strike down the individual mandate, which is clearly unconstitutional, but sever and retain other parts of the law, because the swing vote justices don’t have the courage to do what is right. There is no severability clause in the law (it was drafted in haste by Democrat leaders who were intent on ramming this law down the throats of the people, who were polling against it). Moreover, since it requires providers to insure everyone and to cover all pre-existing conditions, the system will clearly collapse without a legitimate mandate forcing the healthy to purchase insurance. But, they will more likely than not still take this approach, if they decide to rule on the merits at all.

    Another likely option for the Court is to declare the mandate a tax, despite Democratic leaders and the Obama administration’s insistence during debate on the bill that it was not a tax, and to therefore declare that it has no jurisdiction to decide the issue until someone is actually forced to pay the tax. Judges on lower courts have already taken this view, and the courts love kicking the can down the road. Of course, since the mandate doesn’t take effect until 2014 taxes are due in 2015, a ruling at that time will be useless. We will have already ruined any semblance of private health care in this country, and bureaucrats will be fully in charge of deciding whether you should get care for your particular malady. That’s comforting, isn’t it? Hope the state finds you to be important.

    Another issue will be whether Elena Kagan follows the law, which clearly requires her to recuse herself, because of her service as Solicitor General while the Administration was pushing passage of the law. So far, despite the fact that the White House has now, under subpoena, released emails showing Kagan celebrating the law’s passage, she has not indicated that she is going to do the right thing.

    Should be interesting.

  • DonS

    I should have mentioned that there is, of course, another option. Not relying on the Court to do what Congress should itself do — repeal the law, and replace it with a system that protects the healthcare needs of the poor and middle class without putting them into a bureaucratic government system that will destroy choices and private options, and mandate that their care is rationed by government agents, without substantive recourse. This will, of course, require the election of a Republican president and a sufficiently conservative Senate to ensure that repeal is possible given the cloture system. I’m not sure that is realistic, both because of likely Senate obstructionism and Republican cowardice. But it should be the goal.

  • DonS

    I should have mentioned that there is, of course, another option. Not relying on the Court to do what Congress should itself do — repeal the law, and replace it with a system that protects the healthcare needs of the poor and middle class without putting them into a bureaucratic government system that will destroy choices and private options, and mandate that their care is rationed by government agents, without substantive recourse. This will, of course, require the election of a Republican president and a sufficiently conservative Senate to ensure that repeal is possible given the cloture system. I’m not sure that is realistic, both because of likely Senate obstructionism and Republican cowardice. But it should be the goal.

  • Joe

    Michael – I am against the current system. I think ti all needs to be means tested in a way that actually keeps people with means off the system. It will bankrupt us if we don’t change.

    We need to think of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security as what they are: welfare and run them accordingly.

  • Joe

    Michael – I am against the current system. I think ti all needs to be means tested in a way that actually keeps people with means off the system. It will bankrupt us if we don’t change.

    We need to think of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security as what they are: welfare and run them accordingly.

  • Joe

    The Supremes have scheduled 5 .5 hours of argument. The longest appellate argument I have ever conducted was a total of 2.5 hours (1.25 hours per side) I was exhausted at the end of it. Good luck litigators!

  • Joe

    The Supremes have scheduled 5 .5 hours of argument. The longest appellate argument I have ever conducted was a total of 2.5 hours (1.25 hours per side) I was exhausted at the end of it. Good luck litigators!

  • Michael B.

    @Joe@7

    I agree that Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security are socialist, welfare programs. Whether they are a good thing or not is another debate, but call them what they are. What angers me is that many conservatives act like Obama’s new plan is this radical departure from what was otherwise a capitalist system. They criticize Obama’s plan, while having nothing to say about the old system.

  • Michael B.

    @Joe@7

    I agree that Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security are socialist, welfare programs. Whether they are a good thing or not is another debate, but call them what they are. What angers me is that many conservatives act like Obama’s new plan is this radical departure from what was otherwise a capitalist system. They criticize Obama’s plan, while having nothing to say about the old system.

  • kerner

    Maybe its a fiction, but Social Security has one feature in common with a true pension system. The amount the recipient paid in affects the amount he or she takes out. Oh, I grant you the those who paid in nothing still collect benefits. But people who paid in a lot get more out than those who paid in little or nothing. This is the opposite of “means testing” because those with more “means” usually paid more in and therefore get more benefits than those of lesser means. Frankly, as one who paid a lot in over the years, I’m not at all certain that I want to change that aspect of the system. The money I paid in could have been devoted to a retirement plan that would have paid off much better for me, and now you’re telling me that the plan I was forced to pay into won’t pay me either, because I have too much “means”. Thanks a lot.

  • kerner

    Maybe its a fiction, but Social Security has one feature in common with a true pension system. The amount the recipient paid in affects the amount he or she takes out. Oh, I grant you the those who paid in nothing still collect benefits. But people who paid in a lot get more out than those who paid in little or nothing. This is the opposite of “means testing” because those with more “means” usually paid more in and therefore get more benefits than those of lesser means. Frankly, as one who paid a lot in over the years, I’m not at all certain that I want to change that aspect of the system. The money I paid in could have been devoted to a retirement plan that would have paid off much better for me, and now you’re telling me that the plan I was forced to pay into won’t pay me either, because I have too much “means”. Thanks a lot.


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