Monday, November 14, 2011

This Isn't A Surprise, II

As expected, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case involving Obamacare. As I undersatand it, the chosen case is the one put forth by Virginia, challenging the constitutionality of the law. A Federal Appeals Court ruled in favor of Virginia, which was immediately appealed by Obama's DoJ.

The case is to be heard in the March time frame. A decision is expected in June/July. The court has set aside a whopping 5.5 hours for arguments - which is a very small time period, but is actually lengthy in comparison to other Supreme Court cases. 1.5 hours of that is dedicated to arguments over whether finding one part of the law unconstitutional would void the entire law. Personally, I think putting an arbitrary time limit on what can be presented is bullshit, given the enormity of the issue. I mean, one sixth of our economy and our very way of life hangs in the balance, and these folks can't even put in a full day on it?

Heavy lobbying is going on by both sides currently. The left wants Clarence Thomas to recuse himself, because of hiw wife's ties to a lobbying group. The right wants Elena Kagan to recuse herself, since she was the White House's lawyer while Obamacare was being drafted and passed, and was seen publicly cheering when it passed. Either of these two recusing themselves will decide the case before it is even heard. If they both recuse themselves, the balance of power is unaffected.

When all is said and done, the issue, as I've said before, will likely come down the vote of one judge - one who is such a loose cannon no one can predict where he's going to land on any given issue. It is also likely to come down what the Court decides is the definition of 'tax'.

The Obama Administration furiously fought against any mention of Obamacare, specifically the individual mandate, being a tax, while the law was being being shoved through Congress. As soon as it passed, their tact changed - suddenly it could be called a tax, because that would give the Administration the argument that because it is a tax, then Congress has the power to levy it. Nowhere in the Obamacare bill is the word 'tax' mentioned. There are penalties and fines discussed, but not TAX.

Either side who thinks this is a slam dunk decision for their stance is engaging in some very wishful thinking. I know what this decision should be, but I don't have any idea if that decision will be made.

I also don't know what will happen in the aftermath. If the ruling goes against Obama, will he and Dem leadership in Congress abide by it, or will they just ignore it? If the law is ruled unconstitutional, does that instantly invalidate the law, or does Congress have to go back and specifically rescind it? If the ruling favors Obama, Republicans options are very limited. The only thing they can do is hope that they win both houses of Congress and the White House, in order to craft legislation repealing Obamacare. If they don't win all three, they will have to try to cut pieces of Obamacare off by cutting funding here and there - which will ultimately fail if Obama sits there with the veto pen.

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