By David Jackson, USA TODAY
A survey of 56 legal insiders predicts that the Supreme Court will strike down the key part of President Obama's health care law.
Oral arguments in March persuaded a group of attorneys and former clerks that the justices will kill the individual mandate, the requirement that nearly all Americans buy health insurance or pay a fine, according to the survey by Purple Insights.
"In March, our experts believed that likelihood (of an overturn) stood at 35%," said a memo from Doug Usher of Purple Insights. "After hearing the oral arguments and the justices' questioning, our experts now place that probability at 57%."
Of course, no one knows for sure what the high court will do with health care law, and when they will do it.
The Supreme Court has announced it will release opinions on Thursday, but has not said which ones.
The health care case is expected to be decided by the end of the month.
In the memo, Purple Insights said its survey "is comprised of 56 participants: 38 former clerks of current Supreme Court justices and 18 attorneys who have argued before the Court. Eleven former clerks worked for the 'left' block of the Court, 18 clerked for the 'right' block, and 9 clerked for Justice (Anthony) Kennedy."
The individual mandate is considered essential to the overall health care law because it provides financing for much of it.
Among the conclusions of the survey:
Respondents were surprised by the Justices' questioning (in March). When asked if the questioning was more skeptical or less skeptical about the law's constitutionality than they expected, 70% said it was more skeptical. Thirty percent (30%) said it was about what they expected.
One respondent even said, "I feel like a dope, because I was one of those who predicted that the Court would uphold the statute by a lopsided majority...it now appears pretty likely that this prediction was way off."
After the arguments, experts believe the mandate is more likely to be overturned. As a result of the content of the oral arguments, experts now believe there is a higher probability the Court will find the Individual Mandate unconstitutional. In March, our experts believed that likelihood stood at 35%. After hearing the oral arguments and the Justices' questioning, our experts now place that probability at 57%.
If the mandate is struck down, respondents are more likely to believe other parts of the law will go with it.