Supreme Court decides fate of Obama’s health care reform

An expected decision in June by the U.S. Supreme Court will decide the fate of the Obama Administration’s health care reform, the Affordable Care Act.

All major issues in America in the end reach the country’s highest court. So the fact that the Supreme Court today decided to take the case was no surprise. The Obama Administration wanted it, wanted to have the final arbiter decide the law’s fate, and wanted certainty in order to move forward.

“We know the Affordable Care Act is constitutional and are confident the Supreme Court will agree,” said a White House statement.

But no one today dared to say with certainty what and how the nine justices on the Supreme Court will decide. In any case, a big battle is awaiting about the balance of power in the American political system, the extent of federal power, and the reach of Congress’ powers.

The June decision will come in the middle of the run-up to the presidential election in November. Whatever the outcome in the Supreme Court, its decision will be of great importance for the outcome of the election. A victory for reform, i.e., that it is consistent with the Constitution, will undoubtedly strengthen Obama and his chances in the election, while a victory for those who believe that reform violates the Constitution will be seen as a major setback for the president and greatly impair his re-election chances.

So much is at stake.

Lyle Denniston, veteran Supreme Court reporter, describes the thorny legal and constitutional problems on the SCOTUS blog and calls that which will now take place in the Supreme Court “an historic constitutional confrontation over federal power.”

The New York Times’ legal correspondent Adam Liptak wonders in today’s paper about how far the federal government’s power stretches and points to the many conflicting rulings in the lower courts that transcend all partisan political borders.

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