The healthcare law passed in March 2010 has made its way back into the mainstream conversation. After being ruled unconstitutional in 26 states, the case moved to the Supreme Court, where it was debated for three days at the end of March. However, a decision will not be issued until late June, during the heat of the 2012 Presidential race.
At the heart of the debate lies the question of whether the government has the power to penalize uninsured American citizens. This single mandate was the primary reason that the 26 states voted the law unconstitutional, and now the Supreme Court must determine its own stance.
Several outcomes have been discussed and argued. First, if the law holds, as President Obama is confident that it will, it will increase the access to and affordability of health care, as well as improve Medicare and lower its costs. Supporters believe that the law will reduce the number of Americans living without health insurance.
However, if the law is shot down by the Supreme Court, this would constitute a monumental use of judiciary power.
There is speculation of a third route. If the justices find the individual mandate to be unconstitutional, they must decide whether the rest of the law can stand on its own. As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg has expressed, if the mandate is found to be unconstitutional, they then have a decision between wrecking the entire operation or salvaging the remains of the bill.
After three days of debate, the justices seemed to be split down the middle. With five conservatives and four liberals sitting on the bench, only one more conservative justice is needed to act as the swing vote to shoot down the law.
The public has been wholly invested as the debates were presented, with rallies occurring on both sides of the camp. While conservatives worry that the law would set a precedent of government regulation in personal affairs, liberal voters feel that the law would only help more Americans to obtain health insurance.
At this point, everyone must wait for the outcome. Each justice will write an opinion on the case and a decision will be reached. Until then, this 2400-page law will remain a hefty political talking point.