Monday, November 10, 2014

High court to get chances to satisfy ideologues, or do the right thing

I’m sure the ideologues of our society are drooling at the bit, on account of the chance that the conservative wing of the Supreme Court of the United States will have a chance in coming months to turn back a pair of issues they detest.

The issues being the legitimacy of the Affordable Care Act, and whether gay couples ought to be able to marry just like others in our society.

THE LATTER ISSUE got put into circumstances last week that will force the Supreme Court to address the issue – despite their desire expressed in recent months to avoid having to take a stance.

While the Supreme Court on Friday said it would hear the case involving a challenge to the subsidies that make it possible to provide health insurance to people at a cost they can afford.

Before I go further, I should point out that I am amongst the people who have health insurance these days because of the federal initiative that is the key point of President Barack Obama’s legacy. Being a freelance writer means I work for no one specifically who is willing to provide me a health insurance policy as a benefit.

I qualify for a tax break that covers about 40 percent of the cost of my health insurance policy. The rest of the cost comes out of my own pocket.

YET THE SUBSIDIES that allow for me to receive a financial break on buying my own health insurance are the subject of a lawsuit. The federal Court of Appeals based in Richmond, Va., has ruled they are legitimate. Which has critics of health care reform taking their matter to the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C.

That same court has previously ruled that the general concept of Obama’s health care reform initiative is constitutional. But they also have issued rulings that have restricted it.

The opponents of making health insurance more readily accessible would love it if they could knock down the subsidies, because it is the same basic strategy that people who oppose the idea of abortion being a legitimate medical procedure use in their political fights.

They push for so many restrictions on abortion that, for all practical purposes, it becomes next to impossible for many women to obtain. Which is why that referendum question last week in Illinois about whether insurance policies ought to include coverage for abortion – and the overwhelming “yes” vote – is significant.

IF THE IDEOLOGUES could make it too expensive for many to get health insurance, that certainly would go a long way toward disabling the Affordable Care Act. It would become a toothless beast.

We’ll have to see if Chief Justice John Roberts, Jr., once again sides with the less conservative members of the high court, who he thought back in 2012 were too inclined to reject health care reform solely on ideological grounds.

It also will be interesting to see what happens with regards to the concept of gay marriage – which last week had the federal Court of Appeals based in Cincinnati overturn lower court rulings that would have upheld the concept in Michigan and Ohio, along with Kentucky and Tennessee.

We in Chicago are part of a different federal court district – one that has supported the gay marriage concept. We in Illinois also have a Legislature and governor who have signed the change into our law.

BUT IT MEANS this is now officially an issue where the nation becomes a checkerboard of policies – even though the dividing line between support and hostility toward gay marriage no longer is State Line Road between the East Side neighborhood and Hammond, Ind., but now is Michigan City, Ind., and the land to the north.

The high court earlier this autumn went counter to what legal experts expected and decided to ignore the issue. I suspected then the high court’s ideologues did not want to be in a position of having to legitimize the marriage concept, so they chose to do nothing.

Instead, the appeals court created a difference, and now the nation’s high court is going to have to figure out the consistency in policy for the United States as a whole. This clearly is not a “state” issue, even though the ideologues would like it to be because the “checkerboard” concept would add all the more confusion to the matter.

Which means the Supreme Court will have to be called upon in a pair of issues to ultimately decide the same thing – whether to clarify, or further confuse, the populace of our society.


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