Is Obamacare living on borrowed time or about to get a new lease on life? The only thing we know for sure is that the Supreme Court will tell us one way or the other before June is over.
During oral arguments in late March, the court's five Republican-appointed justices appeared to lean strongly toward invalidating the Affordable Care Act's individual health-insurance mandate. The four Democrat appointees lined up solidly behind the law. Still, views may have softened in the weeks since the arguments, and the complexity of the issues involved may have left some room for twists and turns as the justices sat down to write their opinions.
The decision, whatever it may be, will be explosive. A sitting president's signature legislative achievement is on the line -- potentially the first to be struck down in more than 75 years. Yet upholding the decision may defy the will of a majority of Americans who, according to a recent New York Times/CBS poll, think the Affordable Care Act's individual health-insurance mandate is unconstitutional.
If the government wins, Mitt Romney and Republican congressional candidates will run on repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act. If the challengers -- which include 26 states and several private parties -- win, Obama will run against the court's conservatives as unrestrained and unaccountable activists. Indeed, the president -- along with his supporters -- have hinted at that message, leading conservative commentators to accuse liberals of trying to intimidate the court into submission.
Which way do you think the decision is going to go? And what role should public opinion or editorial page combat play in the justices' decisionmaking? Does public opposition to the mandate mean the court has cover to strike down the law without seeming political? Or does it mean the justices should defer to the democratic process?