Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Health Care Law Argued Before Supreme Court

Sharp questioning at Supreme Court leaves healthcare law's fate uncertain.

Media reports and analyses last night and this morning portray the Supreme Court as leaning towards ruling against the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. Yesterday's hearing generated widespread coverage on both TV and print. However, only the CBS Evening News, among the three network newscasts, led with the court hearing.

According to Brian Williams, on NBC Nightly News (3/27, story 2, 3:05, Williams), "A lot of the experts have been predicting that the law would probably stand, but after today, all bets are off." On the CBS Evening News (3/27, lead story, 4:40, Pelley) Jan Crawford said, "The healthcare law is considered President Obama's signature achievement, appeared a majority of the Justices were ready to describe the individual mandate another way -- unconstitutional."

According to the Washington Post (3/28, Fahrenthold, Aizenman), "By the end of Tuesday's long-awaited oral arguments, the individual mandate...seemed to be in trouble." Adam Liptak, in a front-page article for the New York Times (3/28, A1, Subscription Publication), also says "the available evidence indicated that the heart of the Affordable Care Act is in peril." Liptak continues, "If the indications from Tuesday's arguments are correct...the ruling may undo parts or all of the overhaul of the health insurance system, deal Mr. Obama a political blow in the midst of the presidential election season, and revise the constitutional relationship between the federal government and the states."

Justice Kennedy gets the lion's share of the attention, and "skeptical" is, by far, the adjective most often used to describe the tone of his questioning. A Los Angeles Times (3/28, Savage, Levey) headline reading "Skeptical Kennedy Signals Trouble For Obama's Healthcare Law" is a concise summation of the day's analysis.

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