By Ronald Brownstein
As the Supreme Court prepares to hear historic oral arguments on President Obama’s health care reform law this week, a survey of legal insiders released Monday morning found a widespread expectation that the Court would uphold the central pillars of the law.
The survey asked former Supreme Court clerks and lawyers who have argued cases before the Court to assess the probability, on a scale from zero to 100 percent, that the Justices would strike down the law’s mandates on individuals to purchase health insurance or its provisions expanding eligibility for Medicaid to millions of more uninsured adults.
Overall, those surveyed felt there was only a 35 percent probability that the Court would strike down the law’s individual mandate as unconstitutional. Attorneys who had clerked for one of the Court’s four conservative Justices and those who had clerked for Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is considered the key swing vote on the issue, forecast a somewhat higher probability that the law would be struck down than those who had clerked for the four liberal justices.
But all three groups of former clerks-even those who had worked for the Court’s conservative block-said the odds that the Justices would uphold the mandate was well above 50 percent. Lawyers who have argued before the Court said there was a 36 percent probability the Justices would strike down the mandate, about the same as the clerks overall.
“I don’t think this case will be nearly as close a case as conventional wisdom now has it,” one respondent noted in an open-ended comment. “I think the Court will uphold the statute by a lopsided majority.”
The survey was sponsored by two centrist groups: American Action Forum, a center-right Republican advocacy group and the Blue Dog Research Forum, a center-left Democratic advocacy group. It was conducted by Purple Insights, the research division of Purple Strategies, a bipartisan political consulting firm.
Read the entire article at National Journal.