It's entirely in keeping with the judicial restraint we've been urging right-wing justices to observe. And it could have been much worse.
States of Confusion
July 13, 2012
The Supreme Court’s decision in the health care case is best understood as an attempt to maximize damage to established legal precedent while minimizing damage to the particular law under consideration. On the one hand, Chief Justice John Roberts wanted to maintain the Supreme Court as a playpen for anti-government sophistry. On the other, Roberts wanted to avoid getting pilloried as a right-wing extremist who doesn’t care whether people get health insurance or not.
Did the Court Undermine the Medicaid Expansion?
June 29, 2012
As it turns out, the scariest part of Thursday’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act was the issue that got the least attention. Yes, the Supreme Court upheld the individual mandate and its associated reforms of private insurance. But it also ruled that the law’s expansion of Medicaid was unconstitutional. Does that mean the Medicaid expansion might not go forward? Does it mean that a significant number of low-income Americans will remain uninsured because they can't get into the program? In the long run, probably not.
Gaming Out a Mixed SCOTUS Decision
June 20, 2012
As recently as a week ago, everybody watching the Supreme Court seemed convinced of one thing: The justices had made up their minds about the Affordable Care Act. They hadn’t issued a decision and, perhaps, they were fine-tuning the legal arguments they would make in their written opinions. But they knew how they were ruling. They just weren't telling anybody about it. Now a new rumor is making the rounds: Five justices have decided to invalidate the individual mandate but they have not settled on what else, if anything, to invalidate along with it. Does the story have any basis in fact?
Why the Supreme Court Justices Won’t Be Crudely Political When They Rule on Obamacare
March 29, 2012
In the weeks preceding the Obamacare case, many veteran Supreme Court-watchers could not bring themselves to believe that a majority of the justices would find the individual health insurance mandate unconstitutional.
Justices Contemplate Medicaid, Call It a Day
March 28, 2012
The hearings are over, finally. The afternoon argument, over the Affordable Care Act's expansion of Medicaid, was as contentious as the rest -- with the justices giving both the government and the states challenging the law extra time to make their arguments. This time, the liberals wasted no time in pressing Paul Clement, attorney for the 26 states, about his assertion that the law's expansion of Medicaid for the states was coercive.
Day 2 at the Court: Well, that Could Have Gone Better
March 27, 2012
My first impression from day two at the Supreme Court: I was more confident yesterday than I am today. With the caveat that I know health policy a lot better than I know law, I can still imagine the justices upholding the individual mandate. But, at this point, I can just as easily imagine them striking it down. Tuesday's hearing was energized and contentious, from start to finish. But while the justices hammered lawyers from both sides with difficult questions, Solicitor General Don Verrilli seemed to struggle more than Paul Clement, attorney for the states.
Day 1 at the Court: No Ducking the Issue
March 26, 2012
Oral arguments for the Supreme Court on Monday were supposed to be boring. The subject wasn’t the individual mandate, after all. It was the Anti-Injunction Act, a relatively obscure law that prevents courts from hearing legal challenges to taxes until after somebody has paid them. But while the session was not always exciting, the justices did drop two hints about their thinking. All the justices seem eager to decide this case, rather than punting on jurisdictional grounds.
Will the Court Uphold Health Care Reform? Survey Says...
March 19, 2012
Las Vegas hasn’t posted odds on whether the Supreme Court will reject health care reform. But the American Bar Association has done the next best thing. As part of a special publication devoted to the case, the ABA surveyed a group of veteran observers and asked them to predict the outcome. The results? Eighty-five percent predicted that the court will uphold the law. The ABA won’t say how it picked the experts; it promised anonymity to guarantee candor. So make of the results what you will. But those experts seem to part of a broader consensus.
All Hail Samuel Alito, Privacy Champion Extraordinaire!
January 24, 2012
Yesterday the Supreme Court handed down the most important privacy case of the Roberts era, U.S. v. Jones. The unanimous decision is an occasion for dancing in the chat rooms. In holding that the government needs a warrant before attaching a GPS device to a suspect’s car to track his movements 24/7 for a month, all the justices rejected the Obama administration’s extreme and unnecessary position that we have no expectations of privacy when it comes to the virtual surveillance of our movements in public places.