There’s no denying it. Even if we shroud ourselves in the UK common law and stand by the principles that make the system unique, we can’t deny the influence that US Supreme Court decisions have started to have in courts around the world.
If we look beyond legal proceedings, knowledge about how the Court works, the Justices and important legal judgments is crucial to our understanding of US political affairs. Therefore, I’ve added a link to the US Supreme Court blog on the right hand side of this blog.
I would encourage readers to go through it. They may find the section written in plain, non-legal English to be particularly enlightening. I would recommend starting with the analysis written by legal journalist, Lyle Denniston, on the Affordable Care Act (legislation pertaining to ‘Obamacare’, as it is called) that has caused so much controversy over the past year or so:
Analysis: Why a health care law, anyway?
This is one of a continuing series of articles the blog will publish over the next six weeks, explaining more fully the new federal health care law, and the Supreme Court’s review of the constitutionality of key parts of that law. This article deals with Congress’s reasons for enacting the sweeping national law, and explains why key provisions were immediately challenged in court, leading now to Supreme Court review.
It may come as a surprise to the critics of the new federal health care law, who derisively label it “Obamacare” to put the blame for it on the current President, but the fact is that Congress actually started thinking about requiring all Americans to obtain health insurance as early as 1994. But it will come as no surprise, to those Democrats in Congress who finally voted to adopt such a mandate in 2010 (the new bill got no Republican votes in either the House or Senate), that the very idea has been surrounded by constitutional doubt for a generation. Thus it was that, within seven minutes after President Obama in March 2010 signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the insurance mandate’s constitutionality had been put to a test in a federal court in Pensacola, Fla.
It is that very case that the Supreme Court has now agreed to review.