Of all the pontificating about what the Supreme Court will do on Obamacare - Kennedy and Scalia as swing votes, Chief Justice Roberts seeking the broadest majority possible - one of the more interesting takes comes in the form of a survey of high court insiders.
The right-leaning American Action Forum and the left-leaning Blue Dog Research Forum conducted a poll of former Supreme Court clerks and lawyers who have argued before the court. Among the highlights: respondents think there is just a 35 percent probability the court will find the individual mandate at the heart of the case unconstitutional.
The sample for the survey, in the field March 19-22, included 43 former clerks of current Supreme Court justices and 23 lawyers who have argued before the court. A small sample, to be sure, but not one particularly predisposed to the health care reform law. Twelve of the former clerks worked for the "left" block on the court (Breyer, Ginsburg, Kagan, Sotomayor), 21 for the "right" block (Alito, Roberts, Scalia, Thomas), and 10 for the centrist Justice Kennedy.
The group thinks there is only a 27 percent probability that the court would put off a ruling, finding that the case isn't ripe until April 2015, when the government is to start collecting penalties from citizens who fail to get healthcare.
That skepticism seems justified by the tenor of the questions at today's court session, which focused on that very question. Justices, by all accounts, signaled they will decide the case this session.