America’s political system is unique in that many of its major issues are decided by the courts and often, ultimately, by the Supreme Court.
One of the biggest questions so far during President Obama’s two years in the White House has been his health care reform, to which the Republicans are strongly opposed. This highly, and most unfortunately, politicized issue now winds its way through the court system, ending up, most likely, with the nine in the Supreme Court.
The resistance to the law is based on its individual mandate, which opponents say is unconstitutional. In the lower courts so far, three judges, all Democrats, have said that the law is consistent with the Constitution while the other two, both Republicans, say the opposite.
This week, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, Ohio, handed the Obama Administration a narrow but unexpected and encouraging victory when it said that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is consistent with the Constitution. Although the three judge panel was not unanimous, reform advocates rejoiced in the fact that one of the two judges who gave the law its support was a highly respected conservative judge, appointed by President George W. Bush. It was the first time a federal judge, appointed by a Republican president, declared the law constitutional.
Two, perhaps three other federal appellate courts are expected to issue verdicts this year on the constitutionality of the health care law, and then, maybe, the Supreme Court will take the case.
It’s sad that it has had to come down to this for this law, which takes a giant step towards recognizing something with all other Western democracies have long recognized, that health care for all is a fundamental right of each citizen. Let’s hope it prevails over these frivolous challanges. The health care law is long overdue for America.