On Thursday morning, the Supreme Court is expected to finally hand down its monumental decision on ObamaCare. And based largely on the strong skepticism that the court's conservative justices expressed about the law's constitutionality during oral arguments in March, the conventional wisdom is that the court will strike down part or all of President Obama's signature legislative achievement. Of course, many notable figures, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), have predicted that the court will uphold the law, but only 10 percent of Americans share her view, according to one poll. However, oral arguments are famously poor predictors of how the court will rule, and there is some evidence to suggest the law will survive. Here, four reasons the court might uphold ObamaCare:
1. ObamaCare is constitutional
It wasn't all that long ago that there was a near-consensus in the legal community that the Supreme Court should — and would — uphold the law. The most contentious provision of ObamaCare is the individual mandate — which requires most Americans to purchase health insurance — and before the game-changing oral arguments in March, many legal experts assumed that decades of precedent suggested that the mandate falls squarely within Congress' constitutional power to regulate interstate commerce. Indeed, a recent survey of legal experts by Bloomberg shows that 19 of 21 respondents still believe that the mandate should be upheld.
2. John Roberts believes in judicial restraint
The court's chief justice, a possible swing vote on ObamaCare, "is a true conservative who believes in the separate roles of the three branches of government," says Daniel Fisher at Forbes. He believes that "legislating is the legislature's job, subject to the corrective action of the voters," not the courts. With a national election a mere four months away, in which ObamaCare (in the form of Obama) will essentially be put up to a referendum, Roberts could balk at interfering so boldly in the democratic process.
3. The court's impartial reputation is at risk
The Supreme Court's public approval ratings have slid sharply in recent years, partly because of the perception that the justices base their votes on political ideology rather than on an impartial reading of the law. If the court's five conservatives strike down ObamaCare, it could cement the notion that the court is just another nakedly partisan institution. Roberts knows that he "can't afford to lose the public trust," and that overturning the law will "erode that trust," says former Labor Secretary Robert Reich.
4. The Roberts court is pro-business, and businesses want ObamaCare upheld
The Roberts court has been one of the most business-friendly courts in recent memory, and conservative justices might be wary of striking down a law that would be a huge boon to various sectors of the private health-care industry. ObamaCare, which would introduce 30 million new customers to the health-care system, "couldn't have come at a better time" for the pharmaceutical industry, hospitals, and Medicaid providers, says Sean Williams at The Motley Fool.