Thursday, June 14, 2012

ObamaCare and the Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling this month on the constitutionality of certain parts of President Obama'a Healthcare reform law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, (or ObamaCare for short).

This analysis of 4 possible outcomes is very interesting. It's written from the perspective of an opponents of ObamaCare, and includes advice for how opponents of the law should react to each of the scenarios. In brief, the 4 possibilities are:

  1. The Court rules that the individual mandate is constitutional. ObamaCare remains the law.
  2. The Court rules that only the individual mandate is unconstitutional.
  3. The Court rules that the individual mandate is unconstitutional and that certain other provisions depending on that mandate should be struck down.
  4. The Court rules that the individual mandate is unconstitutional and ObamaCare in it's entirety should be struck down.

(There is a fifth option, which is very unlikely given the circuit split. The Court could decline to issue a ruling, and let all lower rulings stand).

It's interesting to note that three of the four likely outcomes are not good for the Obama administration. If I had to bet, I'd bet on option 2 or 3. The Court is likely to make the ruling as narrow as it can to get a majority to agree.

I do think it will be a 5-4 or a 6-3 decision. That's unfortunate, because those decisions usually are narrower, and are interpreted by the press as having less authority than unanimous (or nearly unanimous) decisions.