It would seem that the majority on the US Supreme Court is conflicted about how to respond to the healthcare reform currently known as "Obamacare."
CNN’s legal correspondent Jeffrey Toobin listened to the high court’s deliberations this week and concluded that "this was a train wreck for the Obama administration. This law looks like it’s going to be struck down."
Not so fast, suggests the Wall Street Journal, which like most media pins the outcome on Justice Anthony "Swing" Kennedy. "Justice Kennedy’s early comment that the government carried a ‘heavy burden of justification’ showed considerable sympathy for the challengers," observed the Journal Tuesday. "But toward the end, one of his questions suggested that people who don’t carry health insurance are still engaged in the healthcare market—which is the central pillar of the government’s case."
It’s all so confusing. Or maybe not.
It is obvious enough that the barely cloaked political partisans who dominate the court would like very much to whack the Democratic president by declaring that critical components of his Patent Protection and Affordable Care Act—or, to borrow Vice President Biden’s technical terminology: Barack Obama’s "BFD"—are unconstitutional.
By the same token, the justices know that their conservative movement’s paymasters in the insurance and healthcare industries, and on Wall Street, are actually looking foward to the day when the government requires Americans to purchase insurance from for-profit insurance companies, and when Washington steps in as the guarantor of payments to those companies (and to for-profit healthcare concerns) on behalf of low-income Americans.
Tough call, indeed.
It is usually smart when such conflicts arise to bet on the corporate crowd, as they really do call most of the shots.
But on the outside chance that the court goes rogue—as some analysts are suggesting after two days of hearings on the plan that was approved by Congress and signed into law by the president—is that the end of healthcare reform?
Frankly, it could be the beginning.
It is not like a decision by the Supreme Court to scrap all or part of the current plan is going to make the crisis facing America’s dysfunctional healthcare "system" go away. In all likelihood, it would cause the crisis to become even more of, well, a crisis.