The Supreme Court Decision on Health Care: Love it or Hate it — It Matters Either Way

In school we learn about the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government (remember social studies and/or government class?) Yet consternation about “what those people do in Washington, D.C.” almost always refers to regulators (i.e., the executive branch) and members of Congress (i.e., legislative). Hardly anyone ever thinks of the Supreme Court (unless they’re debating ‘hanging chads’.) In fact, I’d bet that more people can name the nine entities associated with Tolkien’s Fellowship of the Ring than the nine Supreme Court justices.

That’s clearly changing this week as the Court plans to hand down its decision on the constitutionality of the “Access to Health Care for All” Act (or the “Job Killing Health Care” Act, depending on your perspective). To me, the whole kerfluffle demonstrates two important Influence principles, specifically 1) asking the ‘and next, and next, and next’ questions and 2) having a plan B, C and D.

Asking the ‘and next’ question promotes effective influence by helping you understand the entire decision-making process. Often you haven’t won The Influence Game after the first ‘yes.’ There may be additional ‘yeses’ (or at least ‘non-no’s) needed to get you were you want to be. The health care reform demonstrates this principle in that the ‘and next’ question ties back to those pesky three branches of government. The passage through Congress was the first step. Supporters knew that the goals behind health care reform would never be achieved without executive and judicial support. Opponents know this as well and have used that fact to their advantage.

Likewise, having a plan B, C and D connects to the ‘and next’ tactic. Clearly, once you know what’s coming next you really need to plan accordingly if subsequent decisions don’t go your way. In the context of the health care debate, both sides were already “lawyering up’ for the coming arguments in the Supreme Court. They knew appeals were coming the minute the bill was passed.

It’s likely that those who employed these two tactics most effectively will win this particular fight. And on Thursday we’ll find out who that is.

If you’re interested in keeping up with the decision, check out the SCOTUS Blog at


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