Two Big Court Cases Could Affect Presidential Election
U.S. Supreme Court to decide challenges to health care bill, Arizona immigration bill, in 2012.
As 2012 approaches, we look ahead to some enormously significant events that are scheduled to take place in the worlds of politics and law.
Two important United States Supreme Court cases will be argued, and most likely decided, in the coming year.
In March, the Court will hear argument in a challenge to the health care bill passed by Congress in 2009.
There are two big issues in the case. The first issue is whether Congress has the power to mandate citizens to purchase something – mainly, health insurance. The second issue is whether the entire health care bill must be thrown out if the individual mandate is declared unconstitutional.
The other big case coming before the Court in 2012 involves the challenge to the immigration bill enacted by the state of Arizona. A circuit court of appeals blocked several components of the Arizona bill, including provisions making it a state crime to be in the U.S. illegally, to seek work when not authorized, and allowing individuals to be stopped or detained by law enforcement if the officers believe the individual might be in the country unlawfully.
The decisions in these cases could play a big role in the 2012 presidential election.
If the Court, for example, were to throw out the health care bill, President Obama would be subject to attack by his Republican opponent on the grounds that he pushed forward an unconstitutional law. The President, on the other hand, could argue that the Court got it wrong, and that he needs another chance to go back to work and get another health care bill before Congress.
The decision in the Arizona case may be even more significant, politically.
Voters that believe that Arizona should be permitted to address its unique immigration problem may hold the President – a fierce opponent of the law – responsible if it is struck down. On the other hand, voters that believe the law violates the rights of individuals may hold the Republican candidate accountable if the bill is reinstated by the high court.
Speaking of presidential politics, here is one bold prediction: the 2012 campaign is going to be a dog fight. It will be labeled the "most important election in a generation." Voters will be told that they face "an historic choice" between policies that forge a hopeful future, and those based on the failed ideas of the past. At some point, one candidate will accuse the other of "going negative," and the pundits on the major networks will decry the "nasty tone" of the campaign.
In all seriousness, this prediction is an easy one. Every four years, we are absorbed by the hype that accompanies each presidential election. And because the hype grows with every election cycle – more networks, more stories, more punditry – the hype itself seemingly confirms the argument that the election at issue is of singular importance historically. The fact is, every presidential election is important. The 2012 election will be no more or no less important than any other.