Short hits: The Affordable Care Act and the Supreme Court

1. Before the oral arguments on the Affordable Care Act, the American Bar Association conducted a survey of constitutional law scholars and lawyers with constitutional law practices.

85% thought the entire law would be upheld and 15% thought it would be upheld in part.

On the question of the individual mandate, 100% believed that the Justices Breyer, Ginsburg, Kagan, and Sotomayor would vote to uphold it. The Justice who was deemed most likely to uphold the mandate after these four was — Chief Justice Roberts — 69% thought he would find it constitutional. Just 53% thought Justice Kennedy would do so. Most thought Scalia and Alito would find it unconstitutional and everyone said Thomas would vote to overturn it.

It’s fascinating that these experts got so much right on the mandate and the Court’s refusal to overturn the ACA.

2. If you’re unsure about the provisions of the Affordable Care Act, here are some great resources:

– The Kaiser Family Foundation has information about the law, public reaction, and news. This is the phenomenal resource, whether you’re a health policy junkie or someone who just wants to know more.

Politifact has a roundup of claims about Obamacare. Read about which are true and which are not.

– The Washington Post’s interactive tool of what Obamacare means to your family.

– Some fact sheets: Mine on Mandate Myths and two by Theda Skocpol, one on basic facts on the Affordable Care Act, and another on the mandate.

A set of resources I compiled before oral arguments.

3. Elizabeth B. Wydra, the Constitutional Accountability Center’s Chief Counsel, has an interesting piece on Scotusblog regarding the Affordable Care Act decisions and what they say about the ever-evolving relationship between states and the national government.

4. Although many were surprised that Chief Justice Roberts used the taxation power of the federal government to uphold the Affordable Care Act, it has also been used as a constitutional basis for another major social insurance program. Jonathan Alter explains that Franklin Roosevelt’s Labor Secretary Frances Perkins urged him to use the taxation power in legislation setting up Social Security. 

4. Until recently, Republicans discussed means of ensuring universal health care coverage. After they made a turn away from the individual mandate as one component, that commitment seems to have vanished.

Here is Republican Minority Leader Senator Mitch McConnell responding to a question about ensuring universal coverage by saying, “that is not an issue.”


Amy Fried

About Amy Fried

Amy Fried loves Maine's sense of community and the wonderful mix of culture and outdoor recreation. She loves politics in three ways: as an analytical political scientist, a devoted political junkie and a citizen who believes politics matters for people's lives. Fried is Professor of Political Science at the University of Maine. Her views do not reflect those of her employer or any group to which she belongs.