A lot of people seem to think that the Supreme Court will uphold the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). Only 35% of recent Supreme Court law clerks think that the justices will strike down the individual mandate (the most controversial part of the law).
I for one hope the court does uphold it. While the law isn't what all of us progressives would prefer (single payer would be much better), it does help millions of people gain healthcare, eliminates the policies of discrimination employed by most insurance companies, and actually reduces the budget deficit.
However, while I certainly HOPE the Supreme Court upholds the law, I am pretty sure they will strike it down.
Simple, while the mandate (and definitely the rest of act) is almost certainly constitutional (based on past Supreme Court precedence), Citizens United showed us that the Supreme Court does not care about past precedence or what is constitutional. This is an activist court with an activist agenda. Four justices (Scalia, Thomas, Roberts and Alito) are right-wingers who are essentially a bought and paid for arm of the Republican Party. While some of these justices may, sometimes, vote reasonably in particular cases, when push comes to shove (and there is a chance to embarrass a Democratic President) they will do what they can to make that happen.
Justice Kennedy, while not a right-winger, is clearly a conservative Republican. Plus, he is quite old and probably intends to retire within the next few years. The last thing he wants is Barack Obama, a progressive Democrat, picking his successor. So, in the end, Kennedy will join his comrades in voting to strike down the Affordable Care Act. Furthermore, I believe that this group of five will vote to strike down the ENTIRE law, not just the mandate. Removing the mandate but leaving the rest of the law would only hurt insurance companies (as the mandate is the main thing they got in this legislation). The justices won't want to hurt large corporations (they are people after all). Therefore, the Supreme Court will strike down the whole law.
So what happens next? That's a lot murkier, but I offer some guestimates. Please feel free to comment on these or add your own.
--The decision will negatively impact President Obama, but NOT nearly as much the media has suggested. In the end, the election will be decided by the state of the economy. If job creation continues, Obama will win easily. If not, it will be a very difficult race.
--The decision will have a major impact on the single payer movement. So far, single payer legislation has only passed in Vermont, and even there it will take years to implement. Once the states realize that a mandate won't work (at least with the current Supreme Court), single payer will go full steam ahead in many progressive states. Look for single payer to become law within 5 years in small states like Oregon, Rhode Island, and Hawaii, but also larger states like Illinois, California and New York. Once it takes hold in these states (and is successful and popular) it will quickly spread to more swing states (Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Nevada, New Mexico, Florida, Washington, and Wisconsin) before 2022. Eventually, by the late 2020s or early 2030s, it will reach most states in the country. There may be a few permanent holdouts, but even most of these will come around when they see the substantial cost savings. Who knows, maybe the popularity of single payer will be so great that it will pass nationally sooner than many think. We'll see.
Please add your comments and thoughts on the Supreme Court's ruling and its impact, and make sure you vote in the poll!