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Signature Case Awaits Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberts
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. will take the center seat on the Supreme Court beginning March 26 and will hear three days of arguments that will figure into the fate of the new health care law from President Obama. The decision on the new health care law will be issued in June and will have implications on millions of people without health coverage across the country. The decision of the court could define the legacy of the chief justice.
The law to be debated is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The goal of the new law is to eliminate the status of the United States as the only wealthy country in the world to not have universal health care. The aides for Obama call describe this law as being as important as Medicare or Social Security. The republicans feel that it brings the country way too close to big government like countries in Europe.
There will be six hours dedicated to the arguments for the health care law, which is the most amount of time allotted by the court since 1966. In 1966, the court argued about the Voting Rights Act, which was an achievement in the civil rights movement.
A law professor from New York Law School, James F. Simon, said that the battle for the health care law is comparable to the battle between President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Supreme Court when it came to the New Deal. The chief justice then, Charles Evans Hughes, has a lot in common with Roberts right now. Simon has authored a new book called “FDR and Chief Justice Hughes.”
“He was, like Roberts, a brilliant lawyer and clearly had command of the cases and the calendar,” Simon said. “He was trying to hold the court together, and he was trying to show it was impartial.”
“Hughes came out of the progressive wing of the Republican Party,” Simon said, “Roberts, on the other hand, comes out of the conservative wing of the Republican Party.”
Roberts mentioned the Commerce Clause during his confirmation hearing back in 2005. “It is a broad grant of power. This body (Congress) has the authority to determine when issues affecting interstate commerce merit legislative response at the federal level,” Roberts said.
Once all of the arguments for and against the health care law are heard by the court the justices will meet for a private conference and place tentative votes. Should Roberts fall into the majority, he will decide who will write the majority opinion for the court.