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The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Does Obama Already Know the Supremes’ Decision on Obamacare?



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Barring some dramatic break from procedure, the Supreme Court justices have already decided the fate of Obamacare, and are now just working out the written rulings and dissents.

Usually, it works like this: “For cases argued on Monday, the Justices vote on it on Wednesday. Votes on cases argued Tuesday and Wednesday are cast on Friday. The senior Justice voting with the majority assigns the job of writing the majority opinion and the senior Justice voting with the minority chooses who will write the minority opinion. While all Justices can add his or her own statements, the majority opinion stands as the final decision of the court.”

Perhaps for a decision as important as this one, the justices might want to take more time. But it was reported that the Supreme Court held its initial vote on the case Friday, March 30. The justices, and their clerks, are expected to keep the decision secret until the decision and opinions are officially announced. But many speculate that this case will be different; while there is no evidence to suggest that the newest justice, former Obama administration Solicitor General Elena Kagan, would break the code of silence, many wonder whether she would want the president to be blindsided by a decision that partially or completely nullifies his signature domestic policy achievement.

If we take this bit of evidence

President Barack Obama is confiding to Democratic donors that he may have to revisit the health-care issue in a second term, a position at odds with his publicly expressed confidence that the U.S. Supreme Court will uphold the Affordable Care Act, according to three Democratic activists.

As he previewed his agenda for donors at a May 14 fundraiser, Obama said he may be forced to try to revise parts of his health-care plan, depending on how the court rules later this month, said one activist, who requested anonymity to discuss the president’s comments. Guests at the $35,800-a-plate dinner in the Manhattan apartment of Blackstone Group LP (BX) President Tony James were asked to check their smart phones and BlackBerries at the door.

The president has made similar remarks, usually in response to questions, at other fundraising events since the Supreme Court heard arguments in the case during the last week of March, according to two other activists, who also requested anonymity.

with this bit of evidence

Though conversations inside the White House have been kept secret, several Democratic sources said that administration officials now believe that the law can stand without the individual mandate.

….the administration has privately considered alternative reform ideas, despite publicly insisting that such considerations would be premature. One aide put it this way: “When the decision comes down, we will be ready.”

Increasingly, the focus has turned to what would happen should the court rule the individual mandate unconstitutional but declare that it is severable from the rest of the law.

It certainly does start to look like the Obama administration is bracing for a ruling that declares the individual mandate to be unconstitutional. Of course, this could just be prudence on their part.


Tags: Barack Obama , Obamacare , Supreme Court


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