Many on the left are on the cusp of a full blown conniption. As of now, if the questioning during the oral arguments that ended today before the Supreme Court regarding the health care legislation passed by the President and Congress in 2010 is any indication as to their findings, we’re screwed. Four of the five conservative justices (Alito, Roberts, Scalia and Kennedy) have demonstrated the requisite ideological antipathy to the overall ideological focus of the legislation, subjecting counsel for the government to some pretty harsh questions (Clarence Thomas hasn’t asked questions, and never has in his time on the court. He’s known for this).
My response to the media and liberals such as myself: calm the fuck down. Ideological posturing is common in anything that’s media heavy, even in courts. This ideological hostility should be expected. It may well be that there’s going to be a favorable ruling for the government, and that this pre-finding performance is going to be the only sort of vindication that the justices will give to the right.
And, if it’s not, and they gut the law, so be it. What the Republicans forget is that the provisions that rankle them most are those that compel individuals to buy private insurance. The President compromised on this in order to help passage of the bill. That being the case, we can always go back to the drawing board, and opt for a single payer system, which would make conservatives blanch by comparison. And if that fails, we can always push through Medicare and Medicaid expansions through budget reconciliations until they cover the whole country.
The President took the high road on this one, and forged a path of compromise. There was a far less private-sector friendly course we could have pursued, but, in the interest of amity, we didn’t. If we fail on this, and it’s not yet clear that we have, there’s no way that Democrats are simply going to roll over on this one. Even the political reasons aside, our health care system is broken, and it’s in need of deep, deep reform. The Supreme Court may be able to gut healthcare reform by stripping out the individual mandate, but there’s less market-oriented paths that are on much less controversial ground, Constitutionally speaking. The Justices would profit by keeping that in mind.