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Survey: Insiders Think Supreme Court Will Strike Health Care Mandate

The U.S. Supreme Court is seen in Washington, DC on June 18.
Saul Loeb
AFP/Getty Images
The U.S. Supreme Court is seen in Washington, DC on June 18.

A new survey of 38 former clerks of current Supreme Court justices and 18 attorneys who have argued cases before the high court found that most of them think the court will rule that the individual mandate is unconstitutional. The mandate is the centerpiece of the Obama administration's signature health care law and it is unknown whether the law can survive without that piece.

The American Action Forum and Center Forward, which commissioned the survey (pdf), also commissioned one before oral arguments.

In March, those respondents — on average — said there was only a 35 percent probability that the a "SCOTUS majority" would find the mandate unconstitutional. After arguments that average went up to 57 percent.

"I feel like a dope, because I was one of those who predicted that the Court would uphold the statute by a lopsided majority — maybe even 8-1. Although you never know, it now appears pretty likely that this prediction was way off," one of the respondents wrote in his survey.

Another one said it was a toss up: "5-4, either way."

Another called also called it a toss up, but they expanded on how their thinking has changed: "The case largely depends on which way Kennedy and to a lesser extent Roberts go. Before oral argument, I thought the plaintiffs had a 35% chance. The argument led me to up that estimate to 50%," the respondent wrote.

Seventy percent of respondents also said that the "the justices questioning indicated that they were more skeptical about the law's constitutionality than I had expected."

American Action Forum is a right leaning organization and Center Forward is a centrist group.

The Supreme Court is expected to rule on the case by the end of the month.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.