Supreme Court Could Rule Along Party Lines on Health Reform Law
Suspicions that political leanings are affecting judges' rulings on the federal health reform law are expected to accelerate if the case reaches the Supreme Court, withÂ the justicesÂ expected toÂ rule along partisan lines, the New York Times reports (Liptak, New York Times, 2/4).
More than 20 lawsuits have been filed against the health law, and four federal judges have rendered decisions thus far.
Two judges appointed by Democratic presidents ruled in favor of the law and individual mandate.
Meanwhile, two judges appointed by Republican presidents ruled that the requirement that nearly all U.S. residents purchase health coverage is unconstitutional; one of those judges also invalidated the entire overhaul, ruling that the mandate is inseparable from the rest of the law (California Healthline, 2/4).
Implications for Supreme Court Case
Experts say it is possible that the Supreme Court justices will rule along party lines when they eventually consider the reform law. There currently are five justices who were appointed by Republicans and four who were appointed by Democrats.
The Supreme Court is not expected to consider the case for at least another 18 months. The four rulings now are being reviewed at three midlevel appeals courts, where federal judges also will issue several -- and likely divergent -- opinions on the law.
However, when the high court does take up the issue, the justices are keenly aware that how their opinions and votes align will be closely monitored, legal experts note.
Justice Anthony Kennedy may be the swing vote because he is in the ideological middle but leans right (New York Times, 2/5).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.