WaPo Poll: Most Americans Believe SCOTUS Decision on ACA Will Be Political
So says WaPo poll:
More Americans think Supreme Court justices will be acting mainly on their partisan political views than on a neutral reading of the law when they decide the constitutionality of President Obama’s health-care law, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. Half of the public expects the justices to rule mainly based on their “partisan political views,” while fewer, 40 percent, expect their decisions to be rooted primarily “on the basis of the law.” The rest say both equally or do not have an opinion.
This is hardly surprising in light of the partisan oral arguments. Ann Althouse objects:
[L]et's examine that poll question again: "Do you think the Supreme Court justices will rule on this case mainly on the basis of law or mainly on the basis of their partisan political views?" Consider the missing detail. I would like to see the answer to these questions: If the Supreme Court strikes down the health care law — in whole or in part — do you think that will be a decision based primarily on constitutional law or a decision based primarily on the Justices' political opinions? If the Supreme Court upholds the health care law, do you think that will be a decision based primarily on constitutional law or a decision based primarily on the Justices' political opinions?
This is a silly objection. Althouse has her answers and she even references it in her post. She quotes from the WaPo article:
Almost twice as many conservative Republicans think the court will decide on the basis of the law rather than politics, 58 to 33 percent. Liberal Democrats are more skeptical, saying by an equally wide margin that the court will put politics first.
But that is precisely what she wants to know - conservatives and Republicans believe, in light of the oral arguments, that ACA will be struck down. Democrats and supporters of ACA agree. Ergo, Republicans "believe" the case will be decided on "the basis of law rather than politics" and Democrats "believe" the case will be decided on the basis of politics.
The takeaway to me is that EVERYONE has come to a realization, the Supreme Court is a political institution that has reached historic heights of partisanship. That's not good for the institution's credibility and standing.
Interestingly, BECAUSE of the oral arguments, a SCOTUS decision upholding ACA and the individual mandate would likely improve the institutional standing of the Court, in the same way the detainee and habeas corpus cases did. Why? Because the political leanings of the Justices runs contrary to such a result, as it did in those cases.
But the bottom line is clear- the Court's standing with the public as an apolitical institution is in tatters. Honest Republicans and Democrats must accept that, whatever the outcome of the ACA case.
It seems to me that if this is a concern for the Court, it may want to consider stepping away from thrusting itself in the middle of high profile political controversies. A little restraint and minimalism seems in order at this juncture.
Speaking for me only
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