The Supreme Court's decision to review the constitutionality of health care reform means it will be issuing a ruling in the middle of the 2012 presidential campaign.
This can be a highly politicized court, and, for the public good and its own credibility, it must resist that impulse.
If the court follows its own precedents, as it should, this case should not be a close call: The reform law and a provision requiring most people to obtain health insurance or pay a penalty are clearly constitutional.
The court agreed to hear appeals from a ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, which struck down the individual mandate to buy health insurance but left other parts of the law standing.
Opponents of the law contend that Congress went beyond its authority in the reform measure. But Congress, under the commerce clause, plainly has the power to regulate the national health care market.
Almost everyone needs health care at some point, and if uninsured people are unable to pay steep medical bills, they will get charity care that shifts the costs to others, whose insurance premiums go up to cover the cost of the free riders.
There is no denying the health care market is interconnected and that individuals' decisions to purchase insurance — or not — affects the whole system.
Republican-appointed judges on two appellate courts have found the insurance mandate constitutional.
They have cogently pointed out that past Supreme Court decisions have upheld federal laws that were much more intrusive on personal liberty and involved activities less clearly relevant to interstate commerce. ...
... The Supreme Court ought to show judicial restraint, adhere to precedent and uphold the constitutionality of health care reform.
Copyright, New York Times. Courtesy of The Associated Press.