Monday, March 26, 2012

Supreme Court

The Supreme Court is going to hand down a ruling on ObamaCare. If you read the news you might get the impression that lawyers and judges care a lot about logical consistency, previous rulings, and the wording of the laws.

But if you ask anyone to predict how the court will vote they will explain that there are 4 liberals and 4 conservatives, and there is one moderate and it likely hinged on his vote. The key here is that the judges votes can be predicted based on ideology. 

So my question is why people write so many columns about ObamaCare and .... laws. The judges might rule based on whether they think the externalities from free riding are large or will become large. They might rule based on whether they care if people have health insurance or have sympathy for those facing bankruptcy. More likely they will rule based on what their gut says about Democrats and Obama in particular. However they make the decision, we can be pretty sure that prior rulings, the wording of the law, and legal precedent won't be important so who cares?

(I did consider that maybe some people think there is a "right" ruling and that, even if we know the judges aren't interested in finding it we should go through the intellectual exercise anyway. But I'm skeptical. If I heard more statements like "I think ObamaCare is bad policy but constitutional" or "I think ObamaCare is the right policy but unconstitutional" I'd start to believe people are interested in finding the "right" ruling.)

Edit: Most Americans agree with me. According to a CNN poll "Fifty percent say that the justices' decisions will be based mostly on their personal political views, with 46% saying their decisions will based on an objective interpretation of the law." But I'm shocked nearly half of Americans think the justices give a shit about being objective. I was wrong. A sizable market for discussion of the legal facts etc. exists, namely half the country.

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