By Miles Leicher
Believe it or not, there was more happening in health care news this week than a couple of cantaloupes that made everybody sick. But enough about Nancy Grace. After months of tooth grinding, hand wringing and poo flinging by conservatives over the Affordable Care Act – aka “Obamacare” – it looks like the Justice Department has decided to fast-track the hearing on its constitutionality to the Supreme Court. And when I say “fast-track,” I mean it in the same way your Denny’s waitress says she’ll “get your order right in,” but it doesn’t matter because the cook is outside getting blown between the dumpsters.
If the court returns and decides to hear the case, government lawyers are confident that the individual mandate for citizens to purchase insurance will be upheld. It would appear that the Obama administration would like to get this settled in order to A) quell the misinformation and confusion regarding its legality and B) force the Republican presidential candidates to please, for the love of God, find something else to complain about. Anything. I mean, don’t their streets have potholes?
However, as the New York Times points out, there are a couple of ways that this could backfire, both related to the fact that a decision would likely be announced mere months before the 2012 elections. If the court strikes down the mandate, it “would doubtless be a blow” to President Obama’s signature legislative achievement. If they uphold it, then everyone will finally agree that, hey, maybe that black president of ours isn’t so bad after all.
I’m kidding, of course. An overfed army of gun toting, misspelled-sign-waving, absurd-hat-wearing garage tinkerers would immediately set out to elect even more candidates whose sole focus would be repealing the bill. And if 2010 proved anything, it’s that nothing gums up the gears of democracy like an incoming class of single-issue legislators.
As is often the case, it is unclear which way the Supreme Court would lean in their decision. The Obama administration makes a compelling argument that the law is both constitutional and necessary for the continued fiscal (and physical) health of the nation. However, the majority of the justices have a history of making some pretty dumbass rulings in the past: Citizens United, for one, in which they decided that corporations were people and money was speech. If only they had declared that speech was money, I would’ve been able to talk my building’s vending machine out of three Snickers bars! And it wasn’t long ago that they threw out a class-action suit by female Wal-Mart employees. Their new slogan: “We’re rolling back prices – and progress!” Finally, and I can’t be sure of this, but I’m pretty sure they greenlit the latest ‘Charlie’s Angels’ remake. That one’s on you, Clarence Thomas.
Regardless of the eventual outcome, I’d say the administration at least deserves some props for putting it all on the line and not attempting to delay it until after the election. Perhaps President Obama is heeding the call from his base to “grow a pair” and these are the…sprouts? If so, water away, Mr. President. Water away.
How do you think the Supreme Court will rule – and how will it affect the election? And what’s the best way to grow a pair (or a pear)?