The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) — known as "ObamaCare" — goes to court this week. After lengthy legal filings, a flurry of lower court decisions, and two years of high-octane opinionating both pro and con, the nine justices on the conservative-leaning U.S. Supreme Court will have the final say on the ACA's most controversial provision — the mandate requiring Americans to buy health insurance — and they could strike down "ObamaCare" altogether. Six hours of oral arguments, the Court's longest session in 45 years, begin Monday and end Wednesday, with a decision expected in June. Depressingly, says Linda Greenhouse in The New York Times, one recent poll indicates that 75 percent of Americans think the justices' politics, not just legal factors, will shape their decision. Will the court prove them wrong?
At least one conservative will side with Obama: Yes, many Americans expect the court's conservative majority to strike down the ACA along partisan lines, says Joan Biskupic at Reuters. But "subtle signals from individual justices... suggest that presumption is wrong." The conservatives may think the law is bad policy, but I bet at least one of them — perhaps Chief Justice John Roberts or swing Justice Anthony Kennedy — will show "classical conservative regard for judicial restraint and deference to Congress," or at least a wariness of appearing too partisan, and uphold the president's reform package.
"Analysis: Why high court may uphold health-care law"
But public opinion is with the conservatives: "Questions this momentous are generally decided 5 to 4," says Charles Krauthammer in The Washington Post. And in this case, the fate of "ObamaCare" depends "on whatever side of the bed Justice Anthony Kennedy gets out of that morning." Luckily for conservatives, two-thirds of Americans either want the whole law or the individual mandate thrown out. That gives Kennedy and any other waverers plenty of reason to kill this gross federal overreach.
"Obamacare: The reckoning"
Conservative justices are looking beyond "ObamaCare": The court's conservatives would have no problem ignoring a century of legal precedent, the law's obvious constitutionality, and even their own previous opinions to kill "ObamaCare," says Dahila Lithwick at Slate. But they'll put their personal politics aside for now, because the "ObamaCare" fight belongs to the Tea Party, not "the conservative legal elites." Besides, upholding the ACA would make the Supremes look apolitical and august, giving them cover to spend the next two years attacking abortion rights, church-state separation, and affirmative action.
"It's not about the law, stupid"