You are here:HomeIssuesHealth Care Reform2012Healthcare Watch: What If There’s a Partial Supreme Court Decision?

Healthcare Watch: What If There’s a Partial Supreme Court Decision?

When the U.S. Supreme Court rules on challenges to the federal healthcare law, most legal experts are hoping it will give a clear thumbs up or down
May 15, 2012

When the U.S. Supreme Court rules on challenges to the federal healthcare law, most legal experts are hoping it will give a clear thumbs up or down. But what happens if the court is less clear? If the court strikes down just part of the health law, it could outsource the job of figuring out precisely which provisions of the gargantuan law stay or go.

If the court strikes down just the individual mandate contained in the law, things might get complicated. Legal experts say it could remand the case to the lower courts to work through the details. Or, there is an outside chance that the Supreme Court could appoint a “special master” to sift through it under the high court’s supervision, though special masters usually oversee complex settlements or disputes among states, not dismantling politically charged legislation.

An article in Politico discusses these potential scenarios. It points out that during oral arguments in March, justices seemed less than thrilled with having to decide which parts of the 2,700-page law would remain and which would be thrown out if the individual mandate is declared unconstitutional. “Is this not totally unrealistic?” asked Justice Antonin Scalia in an exchange with Deputy Solicitor General Edwin Kneedler. “That we’re going to go through this enormous bill item by item and decide each one?” Of course, there are those who might say that is why we pay Supreme Court justices.

Read more on the possibility of a partial decision on Obamacare: If Health Care is Undecided (Politico 5/8/12)

Filed under: