The Affordable Health Care Act (Obamacare) will most likely be struck down as unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court. Most observers who listened to oral argument by the solicitor general (federal government’s top lawyer) before the Supreme Court last month agreed that it did not go well for the Obama administration. A decision will be announced in June.
The main question before the court was this: Does the federal government have the power to compel individual citizens to purchase a product or service?
The Obamacare law says that everyone must have medical insurance or face penalties from the government.
A recent Gallup poll found an astounding 72 percent of Americans believe the fundamental glue in the president’s health care reform – the individual mandate – is unconstitutional.
You may remember, Obamacare was passed straight down party lines, and the Democrats used a very unusual procedure to even get it to a vote.
Based on the questioning from the conservative justices, all four of them will vote Obamacare unconstitutional. Moderate Anthony Kennedy, considered the “swing vote,” told the lawyers in the room that “the government is saying that the federal government has a duty to tell the individual citizen that it must act, and that is different from what we have (said) in previous cases, and that changes the relationship of the Federal Government to the individual in a very fundamental way.”
Even if the four liberals vote to uphold the law, Obamacare would be struck down 5-4 if Kennedy votes against.
However, this case is interesting to me because the four liberals on the Supreme Court, including two appointees of President Obama, all would proudly call themselves “civil libertarians.” That is to say, they proudly subscribe to an ACLU view of the law. In fact, Ruth Bader Ginsberg was at one time the general counsel for the ACLU. And the ACLU’s basic stated purpose for existing over the last few decades has been to protect the rights of individuals against the power of the government. If the liberal justices decided to side with the Obama administration in this case, I am not sure how they would reconcile the conflict of this law with their liberal judicial philosophy, not that they really have to. Federal judges are appointed for life and answer to no one. They are as close to gods as you can get in America – with the possible exception of Elvis.
But I believe the high profile nature of this case will require that these justices explain themselves if they go against their ACLU leanings in favor of a president they agree with politically. Most of my friends who have followed the court think I’m delusional on this one, but I would not be surprised if at least one of the liberal justices stayed true to their civil libertarian views and voted against Obamacare and we end up with a 6-3 decision. It’s especially likely if the court cannot find a way to take the individual mandate out without rebuking the entire legislation.
Hey, you, wake up!! This is important stuff here …
Community columnist Tim Wildmon is a Lee County resident. He is president of the American Family Association, but the column represents his personal opinion unless otherwise noted. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.