The future of America’s health care system could be decided by Anthony Kennedy, the Supreme Court justice from California who has become the court’s all-important swing vote.
Comments from the bench by the justices are not always a sign of how they will decide a case. But it was evident during Tuesday’s oral arguments on the federal Affordable Care Act that four liberal justices are inclined to find the law constitutional while four conservative jurists are very skeptical of the act’s mandate that nearly all individuals either have insurance or pay a financial penalty. Three of the conservatives raised repeated questions about the mandate while a fourth, Justice Clarence Thomas, asked no questions but is believed to be leaning against it.
That left Kennedy, who at first seemed to join the conservative side but later left just enough wiggle room in his position to leave some doubt about how he will come down.