What will they decide?
Nobody really knows. The Supreme Court is mysterious and fickle, but in the order of likeliest to unlikeliest, here are the possible outcomes of the Obamacare Supreme Court ruling:
The outcome expected by pundits and political leaders. It involves the traditionally conservative justices and conservative-leaning swing vote, Justice Kennedy, voting that the individual mandate, and possibly other parts of the Affordable Care Act, are unconstitutional. Conservatives will celebrate the defeat of the last, pitiful vestige of Obama's legislative agenda. Liberals will retaliate with a blistering series of NYT op-eds on the broken court culminating in a scathing Matt Taibbi article in Rolling Stone about all the conservative justices being unethical shitheads.
Justice Kennedy surprises predictions by voting in favor of Obamacare. The individual mandate is held up and Obamacare is allowed to go into effect. Nobody notices or understands what it does and it is repealed in 2015 when the NRA decides to score the repeal vote as a gun control vote, forcing most democrats to vote in favor of repeal. President Obama, fully focused on confiscating firearms in his second term, decides not to veto the repeal in an effort to win republican votes for a bill requiring background checks on heat seeking missiles. He receives no republican votes.
The liberal justices pile on with the conservatives in an effort to bring clarity to the ruling. This is a strong rebuke to President Obama and sweeps the Republicans to control of the Senate and the White House in 2012. Obamacare is repealed and replaced with the Republican solution, the Health Freedom Act. This allows you to purchase any health care you want and offers a $12 billion subsidy to the oil and gas industry, as well as a series of charter school grants, a ban on slam dunking in basketball, and funds for faith-based mammograms that will be posted on the Internet.
In a shocking development, all of the conservative justices side with the liberals and uphold the individual mandate and other provisions of the Affordable Care Act. The Fox News studios in New York spontaneously melt into a glowing heap of slag. The democrats, blindsided by their victory, accidentally pass legislation outlawing abortion. In an effort to compromise with Republicans, Obama offers to "retool health care." After heated exchanges, Obama somehow ends up in jail in Mississippi.
In the event of a 3-3 ruling, possible only by surprise recusal, the court will be allowed three overtime or "OT" periods in judges' chambers. If the case still has not been decided at the end of OT, Justice Thomas will flip the official Supreme Court Kickoff coin. If the coin lands on its side the ruling will be declared a tie.
Whatever the Supreme Court decides, one thing is certain: America's worries about health care will finally be over, problem solved, and we will never have to talk about it again.
Zack is still waiting for the courts to rule on his novel Liminal States. Jump over the judicial process and make your own ruling by giving it a read.
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