A new New York Times/CBS News poll shows that more than two-thirds of Americans–68%–are hoping the Supreme Court will overturn part or all of the President’s 2010 health care law. Even a plurality of Democrats–48% to 42%–are hoping the Court will strike down the core of the law, the individual mandate.
The Court should rule on the law this month, perhaps as early as next week.
The public generally has little understanding of constitutional law, so SCOTUS generally pays little attention to public opinion. And quite properly.
But it does keep a finger on the pulse of the other branches of government.
The Court has shown reluctance in the past to overturn major legislation supported by the President and his party. That’s probably the result of a long institutional memory running back all the way to the 1930s. When the Court struck down a bunch of New Deal legislation enjoying broad bipartisan and popular support, it led to a political confrontation with President Roosevelt which the Court almost lost.
So some court watchers have suggested that SCOTUS would likewise be reluctant to overturn the centerpiece of Obama’s legislative program. But, unlike the situation in the 1930s, this law never did enjoy bipartisan support–getting only three Republican votes in the Senate and none in the House–and the public clearly doesn’t like it. Widespread public opposition makes it clear to them that if they want to overturn part or all of it, that won’t have any negative repercussions for them.
Bottom line? The justices aren’t going to vote down Obamacare because Americans want it gone. But if they want to overturn it, they’re not going to lose any sleep over the possibility of a showdown with the President.