Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy was definitely the star of the show at today’s Supreme Court hearing on President Obama’s healthcare overhaul.
Kennedy, widely considered to be the swing vote in the Obamacare decision, immediately put U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli on defence, interrupting his opening remarks to grill him on the question of whether Congress has the power to force Americans to buy a product.
Many of Kennedy’s interrogation could have been ripped right out of the GOP playbook. But at least one of his questions cut right to the heart of the battle over the individual mandate:
JUSTICE KENNEDY: Can you create commerce in order to regulate it?
The question clearly threw the Obama administration’s legal team off of its game, forcing Verrilli to defend why the Affordable Care Act regulates the existing healthcare market, rather than forces Americans to buy a new product.
Here’s Verrilli’s response, via the transcript:
GENERAL VERRILLI: That’s not what’s going on here, Justice Kennedy, and we are not seeking to defend the law on that basis. In this case, the — what is being regulated is the method of financing health, the purchase of health care. That itself is economic activity with substantial effects on interstate commerce. And…
Listen below to to Solicitor General Verrilli nervously starting his opening argument on individual mandate (around 25 sec mark):
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