GOOD

Why We Shouldn't Vote Based on the Supreme Court Health Care Case

Even if the highest court decides Obama's health care law is legit, it's still wrong to use a Supreme Court decision to sway voters.


President Obama and his administration feel so confident in the Affordable Care Act's constitutionality that they're egging on the Supreme Court to prove them wrong. After the 11th Circuit in Atlanta ruled against the law's individual mandate in August, the administration could have asked the U.S. Court of Appeals to take up the case, possibly delaying a decision until after the elections. But they declined, meaning the final word will come from Supreme Court square in the middle of the 2012 race.

I get that Obama wants to stand his ground, but anyone who cares about both health care and the power of the legislative system should have been rooting for a delay. If Obama loses, we'll be back to square one—millions of Americans will remain uninsured, and health insurance companies will have an excuse to turn down people with pre-existing conditions. But even if the law is upheld, it still exacerbates a disheartening evil that has only gotten worse: the politicization of our country's highest court.


Again, I understand why the administration elected to move forward. Obama has a good chance of winning, which is why he's going straight to the big boys. Since the Affordable Health Care Act was passed last year, a couple smaller courts have supported the law. In June, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit in Cincinnati narrowly gave the law's individual mandate a pass. Just a few weeks ago, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in Richmond turned down a challenge to the law brought by the Commonwealth of Virginia and others.

Plus, Obama knows full well that the people's faith in the legislative process is at record lows. The debt ceiling disaster, the near-government shutdown over the budget, and the health care hoopla itself has disillusioned us in a big way. Given that Obama is desperate for legitimacy from a trusted entity, betting on the court's decision is a smart political move on his part, and it could very well work.

Regardless of the outcome, though, a political party will be dangling a Supreme Court win in front of the faces of voters come next November. That sets a nasty precedent for an already too-partisan process, and it almost makes me wish the Supreme Court didn't exist.

It may seem like I'm a cranky lefty still angry about Bush v. Gore or the Citizens United case. I am, but that's not the point. Up until a decade ago, conservatives were the ones to invoke their outrage over "legislating from the bench," and still do when the outcome doesn't suit them. Since Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, liberals have relied on the Supreme Court to push forward civil rights agendas. I'm grateful for cases like Roe v. Wade, but I still would much rather if the right to an abortion had been decided by Congress, or if the Civil Rights Act didn't need to be enforced by individual court cases. It would be one thing if Supreme Court justices had 10-year terms—long enough to gain some autonomy, yet short enough to escape becoming an elitist relic. But the idea of a group of life-long appointees with the power to undermine representatives that we've elected rubs me the wrong way, and I'm not the only one.

A little bit of history: In the 1780s, there were three wings of the revolutionary movement. The Federalists (Alexander Hamilton, John Jay) and the Anti-federalists (Thomas Jefferson, Sam Adams) are the ones we learned about in history class, but there was a third wing, a group of farmers and artisans who considered themselves radical republicans (with a lower-case "r"). This group was opposed to the parts of the constitution that called for the establishment of last-word court systems like the Supreme Court. Their grievance was simple: They didn't want a court that would overrule the legislative chamber, which is the only voice the masses have.

I'm not ready to abolish the Supreme Court quite yet, but I do wish it were less of a political football field and more of a group that interpreted the Constitution and Bill of Rights free of political influence. A Supreme Court decision certainly shouldn't be the factor that swings an election. Meanwhile, it's sad that legislators resort to the Supreme Court to restore our faith in them and convince us that their laws (or their opposition to laws) are legitimate. Isn't that what we elect our leaders to do?

Photo via (cc) Flickr user Fibonacci Blue

Articles

Four black women, Engineers Christine Darden and Mary Jackson, mathematician Katherine Johnson, and computer programmer Dorothy Vaughn, worked as "human computers" at NASA during the Space Race, making space travel possible through their complex calculations. Jackson, Johnson, and Vaughn all played a vital role in helping John Glenn become the first American to orbit the Earth.

They worked behind the scenes, but now they're getting the credit they deserve as their accomplishments are brought to the forefront. Their amazing stories were detailed in the book Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly, which was later turned into a movie. (Darden was not featured in the movie, but was in the book). Johnson has a building at NASA named after her, and a street in front of NASA's Washington D.C. headquarters was renamed "Hidden Figures Way."

Keep Reading Show less

Between Alexa, Siri, and Google, artificial intelligence is quickly changing us and the way we live. We no longer have to get up to turn on the lights or set the thermostat, we can find the fastest route to work with a click, and, most importantly, tag our friends in pictures. But interacting with the world isn't the only thing AI is making easier – now we can use it save the world, too.

Keep Reading Show less
Good News
Courtesy of John S. Hutton, MD

A report from Common Sense Media found the average child between the ages of 0 and 8 has 2 hours and 19 minutes of screen time a day, and 35% of their screen time is on a mobile device. A new study conducted by the Cincinnati Children's Hospital published in the journal, JAMA Pediatrics, found exactly what all that screen time is doing to your kid, or more specifically, your kid's developing brain. It turns out, more screen time contributes to slower brain development.

First, researchers gave the kids a test to determine how much and what kind of screen time they were getting. Were they watching fighting or educational content? Were they using it alone or with parents? Then, researchers examined the brains of children aged 3 to 5 year olds by using MRI scans. Forty seven brain-healthy children who hadn't started kindergarten yet were used for the study.

They found that kids who had more than one hour of screen time a day without parental supervision had lower levels of development in their brain's white matter, which is important when it comes to developing cognitive skills, language, and literacy.

Keep Reading Show less
Health
via KTVU / YouTube

The 63-year-old Oakland-Alameda Coliseum, currently branded the RingCentral Coliseum, is one of the most decrepit sports venues in America.

The home to the the NFL's Oakland Raiders (until they move to Las Vegas next season) and MLB's A's, is notoriously known as the Black Hole and has made headlines for its frequent flooding and sewage issues.

One of the stadium's few positive aspects is its connection to public transportation.

Keep Reading Show less
Hero Video
via Anadirc / Flickr

We spend roughly one-third of our life asleep, another third at work and the final third trying our best to have a little fun.

But is that the correct balance? Should we spend as much time at the office as we do with our friends and family? One of the greatest regrets people have on their deathbeds is that they spent too much of their time instead of enjoying quality time with friends and family.

Lawmakers in the United Kingdom have made a significant pledge to reevaluate the work-life balance in their country.

Keep Reading Show less
Lifestyle