Archive for Saturday, March 31, 2012

Congress gets rough treatment from Supreme Court

March 31, 2012


— The Supreme Court left little doubt during last week’s marathon arguments over President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul that it has scant faith in Congress’ ability to get anything done.

The views about Congress underlay questions from justices who appear to be on both sides of the argument over the constitutionality of the law’s key provision, the individual insurance requirement, as well as whether the entire law should be thrown out if the mandate is struck down.

The comments were particularly striking from the conservative justices who have called on unelected judges to show deference to the actions of elected officials.

Justice Antonin Scalia, who appeared strongly in favor of striking down the entire law, was the most outspoken in his disdain for the branch of government that several justices can see from their office windows.

“You can’t repeal the rest of the act because you’re not going to get 60 votes in the Senate to repeal the rest. It’s not a matter of enacting a new act. You’ve got to get 60 votes to repeal it. So the rest of the act is going to be the law,” Scalia said, explaining it might be better to throw the whole thing out.

Justice Anthony Kennedy drew laughs when he asked a lawyer describing what Congress would want the court to do, “Is that the real Congress or a hypothetical Congress?”

Several justices joined in the courtroom’s laughing reaction when the lawyer leading the challenge to the law appeared to suggest Congress could pass new legislation “in a couple of days,” if the court wiped away the entire law.

The justices thus seemed to be thinking along the same lines as the public, according to polls that show Congress’ standing at historic lows.

That outlook, more prevalent among the conservatives than the liberals on the court, is one reason that the Obama administration’s lawyers ran into such stiff resistance in questions from the bench.

Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. repeatedly invoked Congress’ power under the Constitution to take aggressive action to deal with health care, which makes up 17 percent of the U.S. economy, and with the problem of 50 million people who lack insurance but whose health costs are being passed on to taxpayers and those with insurance.

The court, Verrilli said at the end of Tuesday’s argument session, “has a solemn obligation to respect the judgments of the democratically accountable branches of government.”

Certainly, the liberal justices appeared to agree with Verrilli that Congress, then under Democratic control, did not exceed its power.

Now, Congress is essentially locked in a stalemate, with power divided between Republicans who control the House and a Democratic majority in the Senate.

Chances are slim that Congress would act to restore any parts of the law that the court might strike down, even noncontroversial provisions.


cato_the_elder 5 years, 9 months ago

By way of earlier example, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a landmark piece of historic legislation, was supported by substantial majorities of congressional Republicans and majorities of congressional Democrats. Conversely, Republicans were shut out of the ugly process that saw, among other things, the "Cornhusker Kickback," and that ultimately inflicted all 2700 pages of Obamacare on America in the dead of night without, apparently, having been read fully by anyone. No Republican voted for it, and a number of Democrats voted against it. The Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court know this quite well.

Under these circumstances, the "deference to Congress" argument is rendered wholly inapplicable, indeed ludicrous.

pace 5 years, 9 months ago

I think the health care act will stand. I have no idea what the GOP health care remedy is.They seem to tie it to hating the President. They also add all the people that think the health care bill doesn't go far enough to their polls of people being dissatisfied with the health care reform. They have spent millions on ads and pr campaigns with no message about an alternative cure for a sick health care field, but we know they hate Obama. I am so grateful it requires people to either buy their own or pay a fine. I don't want to pay for someone's health care but I also don't want emergency rooms to deny care to people in crisis. Health Care is a wreck and a drain on our economy, the health care act is beginning some remedy.
I get it, the GOP main health care act plan is " hate Obama" such emotional argument means nothing to the families with one person with a preexisting condition, with people working two jobs, neither offering medical insurance plans, nothing to those who when they lost their jobs, their family lost their insurance.

Fatty_McButterpants 5 years, 9 months ago

It's amazing how bitter the GOP becomes when its own tactics are used against it to pass a law it doesn't like...

Commenting has been disabled for this item.