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This will be a wacky week in Washington. The Roberts Court, the same Court which ruled that corporations equal persons and money equals speech, is examining Obama's Affordable Care Act this week. John Roberts, the beacon of transparency and freedom that he is, has ruled that no teevee cameras will be allowed....but audio transcripts will be released after each of three oral argument sessions. The Village magpies have descended on D.C. like locust, positioning themselves in the ready for the post oral-argument wingnuttery....which is sure to break new records in wankery.
Each Villager will stare into his/her secret decoder ring, and assure you that he/she knows what this or that Justice question means. No one will know anything really....not until the Court issues it's ruling sometime in June. it's all a perfect setup for our feckless corporate media. Corporate media only care about the "game." Policy discussions are much too boring and informing the public about who's lying and who's telling the truth is much too biased and not media's job. That only leaves utter speculation and gossip, corporate media's strong suit....and so the political game of "how do you think today's Supreme Court questions will hurt Obama's chances for re-election?".....will be hot, hot, hot the first half of this week.
As far as the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act goes......this should be a no brainer. Armando at Daily Kos states it like I've always seen it....
It is my view that this case, if one applies the settled precedents, is an easy case—the ACA is clearly constitutional. There can be no question that the health insurance law is national in character. Indeed, the focus on the individual mandate demonstrates that every other aspect of ACA, save the absurd (to me) federalism challenge to the Medicaid expansion provisions, is accepted as within the power of Congress.
Health insurance is an interstate business enterprise. The federal government has the right to regulate interstate commerce.
But of course it isn't the end. Not when conservative extremists refuse to recognize the black Democrat as the duly elected president of the U.S. Whatever you think of the Affordable Care Act, the only reason it has been a conservative-complaint magnet, is because of the black Democratic president. From Obama's inauguration, job one for conservatives and Republicans has been to remove him from office.
That is the ONLY explanation here....because the individual insurance mandate was originally a Republican idea.....a policy idea conservatives favored when Bill Clinton was president. But when Obama favored the mandate in his national health reform initiative.....all Republicans who favored it in the 90's....overnight.....had a change of heart. Odd how that works.
The very insurance provision which Republicans never recognized as being unconstitutional when it was them offering it up....instantaneously became unconstitutional as soon as Obama favored it. So, all of this has nothing to do with an insurance mandate....that's simply the window dressing. What's really going on is simply the continuation of Mitch McConnell's decree....."make Obama a one term president." There is no other goal or objective.
Armando, at Daily Kos, after quickly dismissing any claims that the ACA, according to Commerce Clause precedent, is unconstitutional....goes on to say that just because the ACA, according to long standing precedent, is constitutional, doesn't mean much with the Roberts Court. The question is rather, what do the conservative Justices want to do with this case? Do conservative Justices want to make a huge political statement in favor of the powerful....as they did in Citizens United? Have conservative Justices become so politically biased that they would dare overturn precedent...again...just before a presidential election?
It's possible....but I'm thinking, not likely. Here's why. If the Supremes go 5-4 to overturn the ACA, basically rejecting the Commerce Clause of the constitution.....then the next decade will bring a parade of challenges to all New Deal-type policies....Social Security, Medicare, minimum wage, worker protection laws, etc. Perhaps Tea Party conservatives, with the help of the Roberts Court, WILL take their country back.....to the 19th century. But I'm still thinking it's not likely.
The easiest path for the activist Roberts Court is to cop-out. The individual mandate doesn't even kick in until 2014. That means that no one really has standing before the Court to argue against the mandate. No citizen has been forced to do anything yet....and won't be until 2014 under the ACA. The Court could just as easily avoid a presidential campaign year decision by appropriately kicking the can down the road until the can, you know, actually applies. Again, not likely.
If there's one thing I learned from the Citizens United abomination....it's that the conservative and activist Roberts Court wants to be front and center, leading and directing the country for the sake of the country's most powerful.
My prediction is this: The Court will not kick the can down the road. Instead, look for the eventual vote to be 6-3 or 7-2 in favor of the full constitutionality of the ACA. The reason? Both the activist Roberts Court and the ACA serve the interests of powerful insurers and Big Pharma.