Trying To Fathom The Supreme Court On Health Care: The Court Under The Microscope

Yesterday’s oral arguments before the Supreme Court led many observers to think that the Court is about to declare the Obama Health Care law unconstitutional this coming June.

Not so fast, ladies and gentlemen! This is hysteria and panic before the fact, with plenty of opportunity after the Court decision, if it is, indeed, negative!

Emphasis was put on Justice Antonin Scalia’s sarcastic comments about mandating broccoli, a totally ridiculous statement! But one must remember that Scalia is a showboat, a maniacal egotist who loves to hear the sound of his own voice, and get everyone’s attention, and one must remember that the Court was issuing an audio of the oral arguments immediately after the event, a very rare circumstance, and that had to be on Scalia’s mind!

Scalia was thought to be a possible vote, but if it is not, so what, as Scalia is, arguably, a hypocrite who is constantly contradictory, utilizing a broad interpretation of the Constitution, when he wishes to, and other times, pontificating on “originalism”, the idea that we must literally follow the Founding Fathers as they saw things in 1787 at the Constitutional Convention.

More importantly, the view of Justice Anthony Kennedy and Chief Justice John Roberts will be the crucial votes, and although Kennedy and Roberts both expressed some reservations about the Obama Health Care bill and the mandate contained within it, there were also key comments by both that indicated a mind open to consideration of the constitutionality of the law.

Kennedy is usually the swing vote, and seemed conflicted, which can be seen as a good sign, and Roberts seemed very evenhanded, and is known to want to be in the majority, and probably write this most important decision of the past decade, and aware that the Supreme Court does not look very good in the eyes of many people based on recent cases, particularly the Citizens United Case of 2010, on top of the Bush V. Gore case of 2000.

The argument is that if Kennedy goes to the majority, then Roberts will join, and the vote would be 6-3.

And one must point out that the four defenders of the legislation were excellent in their arguments supporting the legislation, with Justice Stephen Breyer, a true intellectual, particularly outstanding in his arguments, but joined by Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan.

So, with one more day of oral arguments, it is not time to give up on support of the legislation, and also realize that one cannot always judge how members of the Court will vote, based on oral argument alone, as often, what is being done is to test both sides in the case, and sometimes, purposely mislead on intentions, in the process of asking the lawyers in the case to defend their side.

This decision is far from certain, but progressives should feel optimistic about it at this point, and simply wait patiently to see the result, knowing that the cause is just and compassionate, and that those of us who support it are on the right side of history with Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal and Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society!