Supreme Court ruling politically influenced

Most Americans say the ruling of the constitutionality of health reform by the Supreme Court will come down to politics, and not be based solely on legal merits, according to a Bloomberg national poll.

Those sentiments are mostly held by independents, 80 percent of whom say the court will not base its ruling solely on legal merits. More Republicans (74 percent) than Democrats (67 percent) think politics play the bigger part.

The Supreme Court is scheduled for arguments March 26-28.

Five justices on the court, including Chief Justice John Roberts, were appointed by Republican presidents. Four were chosen by Democrats, including two, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, by President Obama.

Both conservatives and liberals have fought for Kagan and Thomas, respectively, to sit out from the reform case.

Conservatives have called for Kagan to recuse herself from any health care bill decisions because she was President Obama’s solicitor general when the health reform bill was passed. Democrats have said Thomas has a conflict of interest stemming from the work of his wife, Virginia, with several groups that opposed the health care overhaul.

Neither backed down.

“Whenever there is a closely decided case, people are going to raise questions about impartiality,” UCLA law professor Adam Winkler told BenefitsPro last year. Health care is an especially touchy subject that affects everyone, he said.

Health care ranked fourth on a list of issues that respondents of the Bloomberg poll named as the most important facing the country, behind unemployment and jobs, the federal deficit and gas prices.

In regards to their thoughts on the health reform law in general, 37 percent of respondents said it should be repealed, 11 percent said it should be left alone, and 46 said it was a matter or wait-and-see, saying the law “may need small modifications, but we should see how it works.”

Respondents also weighed in on birth control debate. The majority (77 percent) said birth control shouldn’t be a part of the national political debate, while 20 percent said it should and 3 percent weren’t sure. Regarding the controversy surrounding whether education and health care facilities affiliated with religious organizations, such as the Catholic Church, should provide access to birth control through health insurance plans, people were a little more divided. Most (62 percent) said it was a “matter of a woman’s health and access to birth control” while 33 percent said it was a matter of religious liberty.

The Bloomberg National Poll, conducted Mar 8-11 for Bloomberg News by Selzer & Co. of Des Moines, IA, is based on interviews with 1,002 U.S. adults ages 18 or older.

More coverage on the individual mandate from BenefitsPro




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