On June 28, 2012, the Supreme Court of the United States upheld the constitutionality of Obama’s health care overhaul. The 5-4 vote makes it certain that Obama-care will move forward and have an effect on just about every American. This is a crucial break for Obama who now has the cornerstone piece of legislation he needs for his re-election campaign. The healthcare upheaval has been a key point of contention for Republicans – some even accusing Obama of socializing the U.S. So it was especially surprising that staunch conservative Chief Justice John Roberts (appointed by the Bush administration) was the swing vote in favor of Obama.
Roberts had been pegged as a reliable vote for the conservative side. But on Thursday, he proved the old adage “that’s why they play the game” and gave life to the saying “you never know.” His decision re-affirmed that the country’s highest court is independent and does not play by party lines. Roberts channeled one of his idols – Charles Evan Hughes – a Republican who was Chief Justice during the FDR’s administration. When Roosevelt clashed with the Supreme Court over the New Deal, Hughes prevented FDR from appointing additional justices (essentially FDR’s “yes men”) that would push through all of his New Deal measures. By doing so, he established the Supreme Court (with only 9 justices) as an independent institution. The assumptions made about Roberts being a reliable conservative vote challenged the Court’s independence again and assumed that he would play politics. But to the surprise of many, Obama included, Roberts proved that his sole duty was to decide the law, not to pick the political winners. You never know exactly what is going to happen until it happens.
This is a landmark decision and probably the most important Supreme Court decision since the Bush/Gore decision in 2000. Only time will tell how this decision plays out. Romney has already come out and said that if he is elected he will work hard to repeal Obama-care – thus setting up a major debate topic during the upcoming campaigns. Without getting too political, I don’t have any problem with the country guaranteeing that everyone will be eligible for the medical attention and resources that they need, regardless of pre-existing conditions. I do understand that many conservatives benefit from the previous healthcare system, where Americans (or their employers) pay for their coverage individually instead of the government. The Supreme Court categorized Obama’s Affordable Care Act as a tax and in order to have enough money to care for everyone, we are of course risking piling onto our country’s already unfathomable $15 trillion debt. But, I believe the amount of people that Obama-care affects and will help outweighs the costs the government will have to incur and helps make America an even better place to live.