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Floridians Weigh Impact Of Upcoming SCOTUS Decisions On Gay Marriage, Obamacare

Ted Eytan

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to make decisions by the end of this month on two controversial cases about same-sex marriage and the Affordable Care Act.

Obergefell v. Hodges brings into question whether marriage equality is a Constitutional right. Florida has already legalized same-sex marriage.

In King v. Burwell the Supreme Court will decide to uphold or invalidate a provision of the Affordable Care Act, also known as "Obamacare."

Florida has the highest number of sign-ups in the nation under the Affordable Care Act within the federal exchange.

During an appearance on WJCT's “First Coast Connect,” Greg Pingree, professor at Florida Coastal School of Law, and Nicholas Seabrook, professor at UNF, discussed the possible outcomes for the two cases.

Both Pingree and Seabrook say it’s highly likely that the Supreme Court will decide in favor of same-sex marriage.

Seabrook says Justice Anthony Kennedy is likely to be the fifth and decisive vote in favor of same-sex marriage.

“He’s been actually the author of each of the most significant gay rights decisions that the supreme court has issued,” Seabrook said.

Pingree says Chief Justice John Roberts is concerned with his legacy, and that will play a role in his decision making.

“This is something that possibly down the line is going to be seen something like Plessy v. Ferguson,” Pingree said. “He doesn’t want to be on the wrong side of history.”

Seabrook says he agrees with the assertion that Roberts is concerned with his legacy. He says Roberts will be on the side of maintaining the Affordable Care Act because it looks very bad for the court if they’re potentially taking healthcare away from millions of Americans.

Pingree says he also thinks leaving Americans uninsured will have an impact on the court’s decision.

“Of course the Supreme Court’s decisions always have social consequences, and so there’s nothing new about that, but it just looks bad,” Pingree said. “I think that the court is always concerned about its image, and that has to be something that’s weighing in on them.”

Seabrook says there are several more complications with this case on Obamacare.

“This is, I think, a case where the outcome is much more in doubt than the same-sex marriage case,” Seabrook said.

Both decisions will have an impact across Florida and the nation as a whole.

Listen to the full conversation with Greg Pingree and Nicholas Seabrook on Thursday’s episode of the “First Coast Connect” podcast on iTunes or Stitcher.

Photo credit: "scotus 20829" by Ted Eytan is used under CC BY-SA 2.0.