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Supreme Court block opinions

Posted: March 29, 2012 10:13 a.m.
Updated: March 30, 2012 5:00 a.m.

The three days of oral arguments that took place in the U.S. Supreme Court this week regarding President Obama’s health care plan provide an interesting look into what has happened over past years in the political world and how that has affected the judiciary. Over the last few administrations, presidents have gone further and further in appointing justices who hue to a particular political philosophy. It has become easy to predict the outcome of many of the landmark decisions that come before the court because a certain segment often votes together, in opposition to another segment which habitually votes together.

Many believe that’s the case with the health care matter. The justices who are generally viewed as being conservative -- Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, John Roberts and Samuel Alito -- are expected to say the federal government overstepped its bounds in requiring all Americans to buy health insurance. Those on the left -- Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer, Elena Kegan and Ruth Bader Ginsburg -- are expected to say there are some matters so important that the government has the right to intervene. In the middle is Justice Anthony Kennedy, whose vote could well decide the matter.

Those Kershaw County residents who went to school back when civics was a classroom staple remember that Supreme Court justices were pictured as being open-minded arbiters, that their rulings would never be affected by politics. Of course that holds true less than ever before, and when we look at how polarized the system has become, it's not hard to figure out why. That’s not a happy commentary on the state of the Supreme Court, but it’s a realistic one.

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