Partisanship Unveiled On the Steps of the Supreme Court
The author, Lyndsey Pecker (at right), in front of the Supreme Court the day the Affordable Care Act decision was announced.
Standing on the steps outside of the Supreme Court on the morning of the ruling on the Affordable Care Act (ACA, the 2010 health reform law), I saw partisanship manifested in a very visible way. Two ideologically different camps began to form, with one side housing “the liberals” holding signs which read, “Moving Forward: Protecting Our Care,” and on the other side the opponents of the ACA, including Tea Party members waving their signature Gadsden flag (a yellow flag with a snake and the words “Don’t Tread on Me”). The tension between the two groups was intense, as each side tried asserting its respective position by speaking the loudest. This screaming match continued well into the afternoon, and the masses of people only continued to grow as individuals made it their priority to demonstrate either their support or disapproval of the law. At one point there were belly dancers in the crowd; Christian leaders lying on the ground with prayers books, exclaiming the unconstitutionality of the law; and a slew of Members of Congress all braving Washington’s summer heat wave and unruly crowds to express their opinions. The adrenaline continued to build within me as I stood there with my National Council of Jewish Women sign, supporting health care reform, trying to soak it all in.
Perhaps this experience is a perfect snapshot of politics in its most crude form, highlighting the divisiveness of our nation when it comes to pressing issues. Having participated in the political fervor of that morning, I have a much deeper understanding of polarity and why it takes years of compromise and negotiation to pass social change legislation. I texted my friend a picture of the craziness, and all he replied was, “It’s [the Court] on the right side of history this time.” It was at that moment that I realized how consequential this ruling is. Because of the Affordable Care Act, nearly all employees will be provided with a health care package through their employers and with the exception of a narrow group of employers, all women will receive preventative health services at no additional cost. Moreover, 6.6 million young adults like me benefit from this law, which ensures that students can remain under their parent’s health care coverage until the age of 26. The Supreme Court’s ruling to uphold the Affordable Care Act changes the face of health care, but it also points out the divisions in our society, as the vote was nearly evenly split 5-4. I think it goes without saying that the decision is a victory for students, women, the up to 129 million individuals who were once denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions, and millions of middle-class families who will have the security of affordable health coverage. That is truly monumental, and for those in favor of health care reform, it is certainly a battle won. Lyndsey Pecker is a participant in the Machon Kaplan Summer Social Action Internship Program. She is interning at the National Council of Jewish Women. An earlier version of this post originally appeared on NCJW’s blog.