The US Supreme Court is in the midst of a crisis of massive proportions, if it destroys the Obama Health Care reform in June.
It will create a crisis in health care for about 50 million Americans, and affect young adults, senior citizens, and people with pre-existing conditions in a massively negative way.
It will undermine the major effort of the Obama Administration to bring health care into the 21st century, and on the same level as every other democratic nation in the world, many of whom have had national health care for all for decades.
It will also put the Supreme Court as an institution on trial, as it is already perceived as overly partisan, with many of the decisions decided on party line vote, based on which party’s President chose the members of the Court.
It will also make it even more obvious that the election will have the effect of deciding the future direction of the Court, based on which party gains the Presidency and has control of the US Senate. This has always been true, and has been mentioned by this author numerous times on this blog.
This Court could undermine public faith and respect for the institution itself, doing even more damage than the Bush V. Gore case of 2000, and the Citizens United case of 2010.
The Court has been a hot political issue in the past in election years, including:
1800-Thomas Jefferson vs. John Adams, with the power of the Court a key issue, and Adams’ last minute appointment of Chief Justice John Marshall leading, despite opposition of Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe and Andrew Jackson, to a very powerful Supreme Court shaped by Marshall.
1860–The election of Abraham Lincoln, who attacked the Dred Scott decision that stated that a slave owner could take his slave anywhere in the United States, and helping to lead to the secession of the South, and the coming of the Civil War.
1876–An election where the popular vote loser, Rutherford B. Hayes, was chosen by a committee which included five Supreme Court Justices, when no one was able to win the contested electoral votes of three Southern states–Louisiana, South Carolina and Florida.
1912 and 1924–Third party (Progressive Party) candidates Theodore Roosevelt and Robert La Follette, Sr., respectively, proposed limitations on the powers of the Supreme Court .
1936–Franklin D. Roosevelt made the Court an issue because of its constant declaration of New Deal laws as unconstitutional, and tried to “pack” the Court by a proposal to add six new Justices for each one on the Court over the age of 70, an idea soundly defeated in 1937.
1968–Richard Nixon campaigned against the “liberal” Court of Chief Justice Earl Warren, who then had to swear him as President in January 1969, but retired shortly after.
2000–The Supreme Court on a partisan vote stopped the vote count in the state of Florida, thereby awarding George W. Bush the Presidency over Al Gore, with a margin of victory in Florida of 537 votes statewide.
2012 could be another such case of a President confronting a defiant Supreme Court to the will of the majority in Congress and the American people!