The Affordable Care Act remains in the news after the challenge over the individual mandate, among other provisions, was brought against it to the Supreme Court. It seems as if everyone has an opinion, and voices from all over the political spectrum are weighing in.
The three branches of our government, the Executive, the Legislative, and the Judicial, were designed by the Constitution of the United States to function equally, kind of like a three legged stool. If one leg is not even, the stool doesn’t work very well. Remember 8th grade civics? The Legislative Branch (Congress) introduces and passes laws in response to public need. The Executive Branch (the President’s Administration) enforces the laws. The Judicial Branch (the Courts) determines whether the laws meet the legal criteria set by the Constitution. The President and Congress are elected by the public. The Supreme Court justices are appointed for life, to protect them from any pressure exerted by the other two branches or the public, on cases that come before the Court. When passions are high, it is tempting to forget that fact, as we have seen in the past few days.
The most powerful person in the country right now is Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy. For those of you who do not know, he is what is considered a “moderate” Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS), meaning he is often a swing vote on contentious cases. Many legal experts believe he will be the deciding vote on the fate of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
During the arguments presented to SCOTUS about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) recently, many observers were focused on Mr. Kennedy, his body language, and lines of questioning. Even the tone of his voice was scrutinized by those in the media and others. Speculation is rife as pundits and political junkies attempt to predict what the Court will do. Regardless of the predictions, the Court will do what it always does—deliberate, study, and research to determine whether the law meets the requirements of our country’s most precious document, the Constitution.
For all intents and purposes, the ruling has probably been made, although it will not be made public at this time. Now comes the fun part for the elite law students clerking this semester researching all of the cases cited during the arguments and ultimately writing the majority and dissenting opinions. The Court has a huge task ahead and I am sure June cannot come fast enough. Most expect a 5-4 decision one way or another by this Summer, but don’t bank on it. There may be a few surprises along the way.