ABA magazine predicts ObamaCare will be validated

John O'Brien Mar. 15, 2012, 7:23am


WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) - A poll of experts conducted by the American Bar Association predicts that the U.S. Supreme Court will uphold President Barack Obama's federal health care reform.

The ABA published the results of its poll in its Preview of United States Supreme Court Cases magazine. The ABA says it is the first time in the magazine's more than 40-year history that a special issue has been dedicated to a set of related cases.

The High Court will hear arguments in the many appeals March 26-28. An edition of the magazine is available for purchase here.

"The controversial topic of health care reform is inherently political, with the looming presidential election making the usual rhetoric all the more heated," wrote Catherine Hawke, editor of the magazine.

"But beyond the headlines and sound bites, it is important not to lose sight of the important constitutional issues at play: federalism, states' rights, individual freedoms and limits on our courts, just to name a few."

Other sections of the edition include a scorecard of the key players, a point/counterpoint discussion and a history of challenges to the reform package, which was passed in March 2010.

Challenged is the constitutionality of a mandate requiring individuals to purchase health insurance or face a $695 annual penalty. Also debated is whether the entire package would fail if the mandate is ruled out.

A lawsuit filed by 26 states says the mandate is unconstitutional and the rest of the reform package should be declared void.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit ruled for the states in 2011 but did not find that the mandate was essential to the entire law. A district court judge in Florida had. Both agreed that the mandate was regulating economic inactivity.

The Fourth Circuit ruled in Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's case that he did not have standing to challenge the law on behalf of the state of Virginia because the State wouldn't be affected by the mandate. Only individual Virginians would be, the court said in overturning a district judge's ruling.

The Sixth Circuit sided with the federal government in a 2-1 decision, writing that Congress could conclude that the actions of the self-insured substantially affect interstate commerce.

The Third Circuit ruled in August that a group of New Jersey doctors did not have standing to challenge the law. The doctors could not allege an "actual" injury, the court ruled.

The D.C. Circuit upheld the mandate earlier this year, ruling, "The right to be free from federal regulation is not absolute."

The results of the ABA's poll of experts resulted in:

-Eighty-five percent believe the Supreme Court will uphold the law;

-Ninety-one percent believe the individual mandate will be the deciding issue in the case;

-Seventy percent believe the justices would uphold the entire law even if the mandate is ruled unconstitutional; and

-Sixty-four percent believe the case will have a major impact on the presidential election.

The ABA says those polled were academics, journalists and lawyers who regularly follow and/or comment on the Supreme Court.

From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien by e-mail at jobrienwv@gmail.com.

More News