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The Supreme Court and the Health Care Law
The coming Supreme Court case on the constitutionality of the new health care law will define whether the Court is a political or a judicial entity. We already know that Clarence Thomas is a lost man on this subject, a political hack whose wife is a powerful ultraconservative lobbyist. The rest of the justices, including the compromised Antonin Scalia, are forced by both precedent and logic to uphold the constitutional permissibility of the law.
The argument has been over the individual mandate to hold health care insurance. Ultraconservatives claim that this is an infringement on personal freedom. It is no more an infringement than the requirement that all workers contribute to Social Security from their paychecks. To those on the far right, however, the political hay that can be made from the insurance mandate is irresistible, no matter how reasonable this mandate is.
The reason that the mandate is necessary is simple: those who do not purchase insurance take a free ride on those who do. When someone without insurance fails to pay his medical bills, usually because he doesn't have the money to pay the exorbitant charges now prevailing, those charges then must be paid by those with insurance. Hospitals cannot operate at a loss, and when they don't get paid by one patient, they must make up the difference by charging all the other patients more.
The basic logic behind this clearly commerce-related problem is laid out by Lawrence Tribe (of Harvard Law School) in an op-ed in the NY Times Online today.
We will see, when the Supreme Court inevitably hands down its decision on the health care law, which justices are merely paid political hacks and which ones are truly Justices. I am willing to guess that Scalia will break right and make up a reason to strike down the law. Thomas is already a loss. The rest of the Justices will probably uphold the law.
When this decision comes down, it will be obvious to all how badly the Supreme Court of the United States has been taken over by the far right, and how severe the action must be taken to correct this subversion of our fundamental rights.