Day: March 28, 2012

The Supreme Court On Trial IF It Destroys Health Care Reform: Creation Of A Constitutional Crisis

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!

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!