June 25 2012

Hot Day at the Supreme Court, but No Tamale

Hadley Heath

I went to the Supreme Court this morning hoping to hear some news about ObamaCare.  Nope.  The only real news is that the ruling on the health law will come down Thursday at 10 am.  

I wrote about my experience on the Supreme Court steps in March, during the oral arguments, as a frenzy of left-leaning ObamaCare supporters drowned out opposition chants with "Hey hey Justice Kennedy" variations.  Today was very different.  

Today's protesters were three groups, basically: the freedom-loving Tea Partiers, the religious pro-lifers, and the "silent majority" of "Medicare-for-all" supporters.  I wanted to ask them if they had any statistics to back that up... but they were being awfully quiet.  Some even had duct tape on their mouths.  A very silent "majority" indeed.

Surprisingly, there were a few pro-ObamaCare groups missing this go round, like the Planned Parenthood-ers, the NARAL-ers, and the SEIU-ers.  Either they knew something I didn't about the timing of the decision, or they were uninterested in yelling and waving signs on the SCOTUS steps in the late-June heat.

The number of cameras had multiplied today, with the major networks spilling out of the press pins on the the grassy area by First Street.  Of course, they were happy to shoot their live-shots at SCOTUS today anyway, given the breaking news about the Arizona immigration law ruling.

So it's onward to Thursday.  

If you'll be near a TV or computer Thursday morning, I recommend following along on your favorite TV network or watching the live blog at www.SCOTUSblog.com (on Thursday actually it will be best to go directly to http://scotusblog.wpengine.com)

The decisions for each day are announced by the Justice who wrote the majority opinion on the case.  The Justices announce the rulings in order of reverse seniority, so, starting with Kagan, Sotomayor, etc... all the way to the Chief Justice.  The ObamaCare decision is likely to be written by Justice Roberts, so it will probably come after a few other cases.

It remains to be seen how many individual rulings the Court will issue on ObamaCare.  As a review, remember that the Court heard four seperate "issues:"

  • The Tax Anti-Injunction Act: Whether or not the individual mandate is considered a tax for TAIA purposes.  This will likely be rejected unanimously.
  • The Individual Mandate as a violation of the Commerce Clause: This is the big one, will probably be 5-4 or 6-3.
  • Severability: Whether or not the individual mandate can be struck down on its own, or if parts of the law will fall with it.
  • Medicaid Expansion: Whether this provision in the law amounts to "coercion" on the states.

There's any number of outcomes.  For example, if the entire law is considered unconstitutional and "unseverable," the Justices might even choose not to rule on Medicaid, given that that issue would become "moot."  In any case, we can expect the ruling on the individual mandate to be an extensive opinion on the Commerce Clause, its limits, or alteratively, its former limits. Justices will either have to explain that government can't do anything it wants (pouty face) or that the health insurance market is just so dang unique that individual rights don't matter anymore!  The Justices who announce the rulings will give a summary (different from the syllabus that will come out with each ruling), but this will only take a few minutes.  By that time someone on SCOTUSblog will be posting the full opinion, and the Twittersphere will be in overdrive, spinning Left, Right, and bales of hay into gold.

If you're in DC on Thursday, you should join me on the Supreme Court steps... it will be an historic day!!

And bring a water bottle.  I spent a very sunny morning outdoors today and caught a tan.  Good thing too, because I haven't been to a tanning bed since they instituted that 10 percent tax in 2010!

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