The High Court’s High Stakes Health Care Ruling

Posted on April 10, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

By Scott Orr

The U.S. Supreme Court appears poised to put its stamp on the 2012 race for the White House. And the signals are not good for President Obama.

In a dispute with sweeping implications for the future of health care in the U.S. as well as the presidential race, the court has been listening to arguments on the constitutionality of the signature accomplishment of Obama’s first term, the health care reform package known as Obamacare.

If the court overturns the law, it would at once strip Obama of an important campaign issue and allow presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney to escape attack on an issue on which he is weak.

At issue: Did Congress overstep its constitutional bounds in requiring most Americans to buy health insurance or face penalties?

In questioning from the bench during three days of historic arguments, the high court’s five-member conservative majority appeared skeptical that the law passes constitutional muster. A united conservative vote would gut the law. If, however, one of the conservatives joins the four liberal leaning court members in backing the law, it will survive.

The court devoted three days of argument to review of the most important piece of social legislation in decades. The issue brought crowds of protestors from both sides of the debate to the steps of America’s top court house.

In controversial remarks last week, President Obama appeared to question the authority of the high court to meddle with a law that was duly passed by a majority in congress.

Obama said he was “confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically-elected Congress.”

Then, later in the week, the administration was forced to issue a formal recognition of the court’s supremacy as Attorney General Eric Holder signed a three-page letter to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals which is hearing a separate challenge to the law.

“The power of the courts to review the constitutionality of legislation is beyond dispute,” Holder wrote, affirming the government’s belief that federal judges have the authority to decide the fate of the law.

That Holder himself was involved in responding to the court’s demand demonstrates how seriously the issue is being taken inside the Obama administration.

Many legal scholars believe the law, or at least the individual mandate component of it, is doomed. That doesn’t necessarily doom the president’s re-election, but it leaves his campaign without perhaps, one its most important accomplishments.

Turner GPAis a leading D.C.-based national lobbying and government affairs firm dedicated to delivering cutting edge policy advocacy for the manufacturing, defense, aerospace, health and energy industries. Members of our professional policy team can be reached at (202) 466-2511. We are also on the Web at www.turnergpa.com.

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