It’s no surprise that professional pundits are shocked that the U.S. Supreme Court’s conservative majority appears ready to toss out the entire federal healthcare plan -- the plan Republicans delight in calling “Obamacare.” Self-proclaimed experts are often wrong, though that does not slow down their relentless prognostications and chatter.
And it will be no surprise that conservatives who decry judicial activism will cheer the justices if they choose to engage in decidedly bold judicial activism by nullifying a major piece of legislation passed and approved by democratically elected members of the legislative and executive branches of government.
The only ones who might be surprised -- if they actually start paying attention -- are the many people who tell pollsters they oppose “Obamacare.” A big share of these folks have no idea what the provisions are in the healthcare law, they are only responding to the effective Republican PR campaign that has told them it is bad.
They will be surprised to learn that things they really like are being taken away by the activist justices -- things such as guaranteeing access to healthcare insurance for people with pre-existing medical conditions, allowing young adults to stay on their parents’ health plans and closing the “donut hole” in prescription drug coverage. Those major provisions of Obama’s healthcare package garner huge support in the polls, even among Republicans, and they are made possible by the most contentious part of the law: the mandate for everyone to have health insurance.
Not that long ago, Barack Obama was not in favor of the mandate, maybe because, up until that point, it had been a Republican idea. Now the sides have switched and so have the passions and paranoia. It has become nearly impossible to talk about healthcare rationally, at least in the political realm.
That will have to change if Obama’s healthcare plan bites the dust. Even conservative voters might then notice a very big baby has been thrown out with the bathwater by the overly enthusiastic cleanup crew on the Supreme Court.