Two years ago this Friday, Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act– often known now as “Obamacare.”Immediately it was challenged in the courts. And next week from Monday to Wednesday, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments.
As we’ve been saying it is the most consequential story in politics this year.
The court is considering all the 26 state-level challenges to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into consideration, including a particularly well-argued case against the mandate from Florida, that strikes down the entire health-care reform law.
And they are going to hear a record amount of oral argument next week.
The Court is going to face two crucial questions 1) Whether the “individual mandate” that requires all citizens to buy health insurance or pay a fine is Constitutional 2) Whether the individual mandate is so crucial to the law that the entire thing is struck down, or just the mandate.
What will the arguments look like?
“The minimum coverage provision [the mandate] is within Congress’ power to enact not only because it is a necessary component of a broader scheme of interstate economic regulation,” Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. said, “but also because, within that scheme, the provision itself regulates economic conduct with a substantial effect on interstate commerce, namely the way in which individuals finance their participation in the health care market.”
And the case against Obamacare will argue that this interpretation is not only novel it gives the federal government unlimited power:
“The individual mandate rests on a claim of federal power that is both unprecedented and unbounded: the power to compel individuals to engage in commerce in order to more effectively to regulate commerce,” Paul Clement, a lawyer for the states, argues in court papers.
If Congress can compel individuals into the market place, he says, there are no limits to its power. “Given the breadth of the modern conception of commerce, there is almost no decision that Congress could not label ‘economic’ and thereby compel under the federal government’s theory.”
The ruling that comes down later this year is very likely to change the election.
If some key part of the law (or the entire thing) is struck down, Obama is going to lose his signature legislative accomplishment, and he will likely make the composition of the court a major campaign issue.
If it is upheld at least some Republican-appointed justices will have ruled in its favour. That is going to cut the legs out of many conservative arguments against the law.
This could be the court’s most controversial case since Roe v. Wade. And it will surely be the most significant case dealing with the Interstate Commerce Clause since the high court struck down parts of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal in the 1930s.
The high court is only allowing a select number of reporters in to witness the arguments. But C-Span will be broadcasting audio recording of them each day.
We’ll continue to pass you every little bit of news.
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