Saturday, June 30, 2012

The US Supreme Court & The Health of America

Though it is unclear whether Obamacare will improve the health of Americans, the recent US Supreme Court ruling will at least improve the health of American institutions.

America is a sick country, not only because of the millions of people uninsured and vulnerable to the cost of already one of the most expensive health care systems, but because of the partisanship that divides its government and its people.

All three branches of government have been suffering from polarization, a disease where the American body politic is made lethargic as resources are diverted from acting externally for the good of the country to fighting within itself, against its own virus-ridden cells. This paralysis has given way to ineffectiveness that has imperiled the whole country, typified in the debt ceiling crisis of last year. This has rendered the executive, legislative, and judicial branches as unpopular as ever.

The US Supreme Court has been increasingly seen as a partisan appointed body, recent rulings beginning with Bush v. Gore in 2000 made the court appear as ideological as Congress, if not more. Rulings that upturned gun restrictions, allowed limitless political donations from companies, and upheld the most controversial aspect of Arizona's anti-immigration law showed the highest court to be more concerned with protecting conservatism than protecting the constitution.

It is little wonder why that in regards to the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare as it has perjoratively become to be known, only one in eight Americans believed the court would make its decision based on legal grounds and not ideology. The politicization of the court also helps to explain why it is at its lowest approval rating of just 44%, much lower than the 66% it enjoyed in the late 1980s.

In all of this however the Supreme Court gives hope that there is a cure to the partisanship that is weakening the American government, for it was on Thursday that in a 5-4 ruling the court decided to uphold Obama's health initiative in its entirety. Though the ruling by itself was a blow against political entrenchment, the fact that conservative Chief Justice John Roberts was the swing vote proved partisanship doesn't have to be supreme.

In an act of non-partisanship the US Supreme Court validated the Affordable Care Act, but it also validated a better way for the other branches of government to operate. It ruled on one prescription for the health care system and provided another for the political system. Hopefully the executive and legislative branches will heed both for the health of Americans and for the health of their institutions.

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