The Supreme Court's three days of arguments on the constitutionality of the Obama health care law have triggered a guessing game, replacing for the moment the 2012 presidential campaign as topic A on the nation's nonstop
. Did the justices' questions tip their hands on how they will vote this summer?
Many of the professional clairvoyants appeared to conclude that the defender for the administration, Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, had faltered under the probing questions from the conservatives on the bench, led by Justice
After hearing the constitutional pros and cons on the individual mandate requiring Americans to obtain health insurance or pay a penalty, the court took up the question of whether, if it ruled against the mandate, the whole law would have to go.
Simply doing so in a sense raised whether the bathwater would also have to be thrown out with the baby -- including concomitant features such as the requirement that insurers cover pre-existing conditions and dependent children up to age 26. One may wonder why that discussion could not have been held later, in the event the conservative guillotine did fall.
As a matter of fact, one may also wonder why, given the knowledge that this is a presidential election year, the court had decided last year to take up this hugely combustible issue smack of the middle of it. The hearing and vote could easily have waited until after the November election, considering the political stakes involved.
The court, of course, is supposed to be and professes to be blind to politics. But that contention was severely challenged if not refuted by the
The now-retired Justice
But that time has not yet come. The doubts that linger over the court's blind eye to politics have already been fanned by the conservatives' interrogations this week of the health care act's legal defenders.
Peter Finley Dunne's Mr. Dooley years ago delivered his caustic verdict in a famous observation that no matter whether the country follows the flag, the Supreme Court follows the election returns. In the last national elections, the 2010 congressional midterms, the
As for the ongoing presidential campaign, this week's hearings were no favor for front-running
Meanwhile, as the political clairvoyants continue examining the tea leaves left in the judges' cups, the spotlight swings back Tuesday to primaries in Wisconsin, Maryland and the District of Columbia. Mr. Romney is favored to win again, even as more leading Republicans call on