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Obamacare Ruling Could Decide 2012 Presidential Election

Benjamin Gottlieb |
March 25, 2012 | 8:22 p.m. PDT

Executive Editor

The Supreme Court of the United States (Creative Commons).
The Supreme Court of the United States (Creative Commons).
The Supreme Court will begin hearing a series of challenges to the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama's health care law, on Monday, a case that will determine whether or not Congress has the authority under the Constitution to force Americans to purchase health insurance.

The three days of planned Supreme Court arguments are historic in length, prompting the lawyers involved to train for what is being characterized as a "legal marathon." Paul D. Clement, who represents the 26 states challenging the health care law, told the New York Times that the problem was "not just the length of the arguments the court will hear, but the variety of topics to be addressed."

From the New York Times:

The law itself is a sprawling revision of the health care system meant to provide coverage to tens of millions of previously uninsured Americans by imposing new requirements on states, employers and insurance companies and, through what has been called the individual mandate, by requiring most Americans to obtain insurance or pay a penalty.

While the law has faced continued opposition since it was passed nearly two years ago, the President continues to sing its praises on the eve of the Supreme Court case. According to the White House, 2.5 million more young Americans have been added to their parents health plans and 5.1 million citizens on Medicare have saves an average of $635 on prescription drug costs.

“Today, two years after we passed health care reform, more young adults have insurance, more seniors are saving money on their prescription drugs, and more Americans can rest easy knowing they won’t be dropped from their insurance plans if they get sick,” Obama said in a statement.  “The law has made a difference for millions of Americans, and over time, it will help give even more working and middle-class families the security they deserve.”

Despite the noted successes, the health care mandate continues to face scrutiny. Earlier this year, religious groups were up in arms over a stipulation in the health care law mandating contraception in most plans. Those protests continue to rage on the eve of the Supreme Court case.

But in the end, it comes down to how the justices vote.

All eyes are on Justice Anthony Kennedy, considered by many as the court's "decider", according to the Miami Herald.

Elizabeth Price Foley, a law professor at Florida International University, told the Herald that Justice Kennedy's slant in this case could alter the course of the 2012 presidential election.

“I can guarantee you when he opens his mouth, everybody’s going to lean forward and very carefully parse every word,” she told the Herald.

From the Miami Herald:

Kennedy more often than not votes with the other justices appointed by Republicans. He helped invalidate a handgun ban in the District of Columbia and joined the majority in Bush v. Gore, which ended Florida’s recount in the 2000 presidential election. He has voted against affirmative action and is generally a proponent of state sovereignty.

But Kennedy has a centrist, libertarian streak that has led to voting to protect flag burning as free speech and for gay rights. A prominent evangelical leader once deemed him “the most dangerous man in America.” He is viewed as open-minded but also capricious and overly self-aware.

To view the White Houses' review of the Affordable Care Act, scroll below.




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