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Thursday, September 29, 2011


The Obama administration has asked the Supreme Court to hear arguments about the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (i.e., healthcare reform).  The law has come under judicial scrutiny in different federal courts, and the results have been mixed: Most appeals courts have found the law constitutional, but the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta found one of the law's central requirements--that all individuals have health insurance--unconstitutional.  If that portion of the ACA is disallowed, the whole plan falls apart, so the White House is understandably eager to have the question resolved.

Some have questioned the wisdom of the Administration requesting this review at this time.  If the Court hears the case now, a ruling will likely be issued next spring, in the midst of the presidential election campaign.  For Obama, though, this makes a great deal of sense.  If the law is upheld, the President can claim a substantial victory.  If the law is ruled unconstitutional--especially if the justices rule according to their perceived ideological biases--this will likely motivate the Democratic base to come out in force.

As much as the Republican Party would like to convince us otherwise, a majority of the American public wants healthcare reform.  The constant cries of "creeping socialism" are wholly unconvincing.  If anything, most people probably feel the ACA didn't go far enough--especially in light of news that Big Insurance is seeking enormous rate increases during a time of financial crisis for most Americans.  The Court will either validate Obama's vision or validate the belief--growing exponentially since the Citizens United decision--that a highly politicized right-wing mini-majority does nothing but carry water for corporate masters.  The backlash could be inspiring.

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