Barack Obama faces his judgment day over universal healthcare law
David Gardner in Los Angeles
28 June 2012 12:03 PM
President Obama’s re-election hopes today rested on the US Supreme Court’s verdict over his law to give Americans universal healthcare for the first time.
A decision that dashes the defining achievement of his presidency, to bring care to the estimated 50 million Americans who do not have insurance, could be a body-blow to his campaign.
However, if the nation’s highest court leaves the Bill relatively unchanged it will hand the President a huge vote of confidence when polls show him running head to head against his Republican challenger Mitt Romney with just five months until the election.
The White House was uncharacteristically quiet as it remained on tenterhooks with the rest of the US.
Mr Obama normally receives advance warning of government actions, such as the release of jobless statistics, but he will learn today’s decision at the same time as everyone else.
The Affordable Healthcare Act, driven into law by Mr Obama’s Democrats in 2010 over Republican objections, centres on cheaper medical insurance.
But even after being passed it divided the nation and the President’s determination to make the issue a cornerstone of his first term in office is blamed for his faltering popularity.
The nine Supreme Court justices were set to emerge from behind a red velvet curtain in Washington DC soon after 6pm BST tonight and say whether they believe the Act is constitutional.
Historian Julian Zelizer of Princeton University said: “If the court takes away Obama’s biggest accomplishment it would be exactly what any president really fears. In some ways, it would be worse than not getting re-elected.”
Mr Romney yesterday said a decision to invalidate the law would mean Mr Obama’s time in office was “a waste”.
Republican House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner was reported as saying: “Regardless of how the court rules, the law is a huge issue for the American people and has to be repealed completely.”