The Supreme Court Justices' Shocking Conflicts Could Determine The Fate Of Obamacare

sonia sotomayor supreme courtSonia Sotomayor.

Photo: AP Images

The Supreme Court’s anticipated ruling on Obamacare this month could be its most far-reaching decision in the past century.But just as important as the decision itself are the personal conflicts of interest the justices have brought to the bench.

At least four Supreme Court Justices have blatant conflicts of interest, including investments in companies that would be directly impacted by health care reform.

But Chief Justice John Roberts pretty much torpedoed the idea of justices recusing themselves from the case.

So all that’s left is to wonder if, and how much, these conflicts swayed the justices’ votes.

Justice Stephen Breyer holds tens of thousands of dollars in many health care companies.

In his 2011 disclosure filing, Breyer admitted to holdings in at least six health care-related companies.

Among his holdings are $15,000 to $50,000 in Amgen and $50,000 to $100,000 in Novartis, The Daily Beast reported in 2012.

He also holds up to $15,000 in Genzyme.

Insurance companies, and other health care-related businesses, stand to benefit from the health care exchange mandated by Obamacare. Companies stand to gain because the U.S. Treasury will send subsidy payments directly to insurers on behalf of low- and moderate-income people, the New York Times reported.

But Breyer's conflicted investments don't end there.

Breyer holds $50,000 to $100,000 in Quest Diagnostics and owns shares in Cintas Corp., a hospital services provider.

In addition, Breyer holds anywhere from $15,000 to $50,000 in companies that are in a position to deal with the regulatory requirements of Obamacare, according to The Daily Beast.

These businesses, such as ADP, claim they specialize in helping businesses deal with the increased compliance requirements stemming from Obamacare.

Justice Samuel Alito also holds health care investments.

Alito owns shares in health care stock, plus he holds up to $45,000 in Bristol-Myers Squibb, The Daily Beast reported.

Pharmaceutical companies, such as Bristol-Myers Squibb, spent as much as $150 million in 2009 advertising health care reform, Forbes reported at the time.

Health care reform might actually repair the reputation of big pharmaceutical companies that have come out to support the overhaul, Forbes reported. And the law might not have a huge impact on drug companies because they typically market very expensive treatments to small groups of people, according to Forbes.

Justice Clarence Thomas has faced criticism for his wife's political activities and his failure to report all of his income.

Thomas's potential conflicts became the subject of public scrutiny after news emerged that he failed for five years to report his wife's income on disclosure forms.

From 2003 through 2007, Thomas checked the box labelled 'none' in the 'spousal noninvestment income' section of the disclosure forms, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The origin of Virginia Thomas' money sparked an even bigger scandal. Virginia Thomas founded a conservative, anti-Obama nonprofit in 2009, which she has used to bash Obamacare, The Week reported.

Virginia Thomas isn't technically breaking the rules, but she's making things more difficult for her husband.

Virginia Thomas' Tea Party nonprofit, Liberty Central Inc., works as a lobbying group to defend the country's conservative ideals and to oppose Obama's reforms, The Los Angeles Times reported in an article from 2010.

Liberty Central Inc. is just one stop in Virginia Thomas' long line of conservative activism. The income she earned that her husband neglected to report came from the Heritage Foundation.

The conservative lobbying group paid Virginia Thomas $686,589 between 2003 and 2007, The Los Angeles Times Reported.

While Virginia Thomas isn't directly violating ethics rules with her nonprofit, her lobbying activities raise concerns about a possible conflict of interest for her husband.

Elena Kagan's past work for the Obama administration could have coloured her perspective on health reform.

Before taking the bench, Kagan served as solicitor general for the Obama Administration.

In that role, she helped the administration create arguments defending the constitutionality of Obamacare. And when the act came under fire in Florida vs. HHS, she helped craft a legal defence for the Affordable Care Act.

While Kagan dismissed herself from the Supreme Court hearing about the controversial 2010 Arizona Immigration Laws citing a conflict of interest, she has not done so for Obamacare.

Plus Kagan has already heralded Obamacare as a great idea for the country.

During her time working for the Obama administration, Kagan called the act 'simply amazing,' in an email to Democrats.

She also lauded the fact that Democrats had the votes to pass the Affordable Care Act, according to The Week.

No matter what, insurance can be costly

NOW WATCH: Briefing videos

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.