Supreme Court experts predict justices will strike down healthcare mandate

Legal insiders are convinced the Supreme Court will strike down all or part of President Obama's healthcare law, according to a new survey of former Supreme Court clerks and attorneys who have argued before the court.

The survey was conducted by Purple Strategies on behalf of the conservative American Action Forum. The results show big changes since a similar AAF poll before the court heard oral arguments in the healthcare case.

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Fifty-seven percent of the attorneys and former clerks now say they expect the court to strike down the law's individual mandate — compared with just 35 percent who thought that was likely in March.

Respondents were clearly swayed by the justices' aggressive questioning during oral arguments, during which they seemed deeply skeptical of the mandate and the Justice Department's defense of the policy. The mandate requires most U.S. taxpayers to buy insurance or pay a penalty.

Seventy percent of the experts polled in the latest AAF survey said the justices' questions were more skeptical than they had anticipated heading into the arguments, which stretched over three days in late March.

A plurality of the attorneys and former clerks still believe the court is more likely to strike down just the mandate than to ax the entire law. Thirty-one percent said they expect the entire law to fall, while 48 percent said they expect the justices to "sever" the mandate from other parts of the law.

Purple Strategies surveyed 56 people for the survey — 18 attorneys who have argued before the court and 38 former clerks. The group said 11 of the clerks worked for the court's liberal justices, 18 clerked for conservative justices and nine clerked for the court's traditional swing vote Justice Anthony Kennedy.