Justices signal deep trouble for health care law

Amy Brighton from Medina, Ohio, who opposes health care reform, rallies in front of the Supreme Court in Washington on Tuesday as the court continues arguments on the health care law signed by President Obama.

Amy Brighton from Medina, Ohio, who opposes health care reform, rallies in front of the Supreme Court in Washington on Tuesday as the court continues arguments on the health care law signed by President Obama.

WASHINGTON -- The fate of President Obama's health care overhaul was cast into deeper jeopardy Tuesday as the Supreme Court's conservative justices sharply and repeatedly questioned its core requirement that virtually every American carry insurance. The court will now take up whether any remnant of the historic law can survive if that linchpin fails.

The justices' questions in Tuesday's hearing carried deeply serious implications but were sometimes flavored with fanciful suggestions. If the government can force people to buy health insurance, justices wanted to know, can it require people to buy burial insurance? Cellphones? Broccoli?

The law, pushed to passage by Obama and congressional Democrats two years ago, would affect nearly all Americans and extend insurance coverage to 30 million people who now lack it. Republicans are strongly opposed, including the presidential contenders now campaigning for the chance to challenge Obama in November.

Audio for Tuesday's court argument can be found Here.

The court focused on whether the mandate for Americans to have insurance "is a step beyond what our cases allow," in the words of Justice Anthony Kennedy.

But Kennedy, who is often the swing vote on cases that divide the justices along ideological lines, also said he recognized the magnitude of the nation's health care problems and seemed to suggest they would require a comprehensive solution.

He and Chief Justice John Roberts emerged as the apparent pivotal votes in the court's decision. The ruling is due in June in the midst of a presidential election campaign that has focused in part on the new law.

Though many of the justices asked tough questions and made strong statements, past cases have shown that those don't necessarily translate into votes when it comes time for a decision.

Today's final arguments -- the third day in the unusually long series of hearings -- will focus on whether the rest of the law can remain even if the insurance mandate is struck down and, separately, on the constitutionality of another provision expanding the federal-state Medicaid program.

The insurance requirement is intended to complement two unchallenged provisions of the law that require insurers to cover people regardless of existing medical conditions and limit how much they can charge in premiums based on a person's age or health.

The law envisions that insurers will be able to accommodate older and sicker people without facing financial ruin because the insurance requirement will provide insurance companies with more premiums from healthy people to cover the increased costs of care.

The biggest issue, to which the justices returned repeatedly during two hours of arguments in a packed courtroom, was whether the government can force people to buy insurance.


1d2ec 3 years, 8 months ago

Solve this problem easily. Allow NO exemptions.Congress and the President along with all elected and non elected officials must abide by all law they choose to pass. NO EXCEPTIONS.....


Cartman 3 years, 8 months ago

I hope the Supremes do the right thing, and not grant the feds this new power. It will be the end to what is left of freedom in this country.


Trustbuster 3 years, 8 months ago

I believe the majority of the justices on the court will throw out the individual mandate. When that happens the Obama healthcare law becomes unhinged with its meager provisions. Can someone find a previous precedent of a fed. court case that has mandated such a provision? Over 2700 pages to this law which most of the congress people like Pelosi claimed they didn't bother to read before voting on it!


gotanyfacts 3 years, 8 months ago

Interesting note: Should Justice Kagan recuse herself? Kagan was Obama's Solicitor General during the time her department was preparing for a potential legal challenge to Obamacare. If she was involved in any way she would by law have to recuse herself. The Obama administration claims that she was "walled off" from the matter. Yet, emails to and from Kagan, as Solicitor General, have come light with the heading "Health care litigation meeting". The administration is blocking release of the contents of these emails claiming they are protected because they contain "legal issues, arguments and strategy...”! One would assume legal issues, arguments and strategy regarding the heading! It seems the administration is saying "we shouldn't have to release the emails because they contain things we deny they contain." Speaking out of both sides of the mouth is common within the administration. Claiming and denying at the same time that the penalty established in Obamacare is a tax. Unashamed and straight faced! There is another disquieting thing to consider about Kagan. Federal statute, 28 U.S.C. 455(b)(3) requires recusal if she provided counsel, advice, or witness. Kagan says she will recuse herself only if she “officially formally approved something,” or “served as counsel of record” or “played any substantial role.” In other words, she is comfortable with changing the law by replacing "advise" (with no qualifiers) to "substantial role" which we can assume will be dependent upon her assessment. Most likely, the Constitution plays second fiddle to ideology in Kagan's heart!


Sister_Ruby 3 years, 8 months ago

The audio I've heard of Kagan speaking during the talks sounded like she saw her role as an advocate FOR the law. Not questioning the presenters but rather lobbying her fellow Jurists on behalf of the law. Pretty sorry excuse for an objective Supreme Court Justice. Of course she is a "sensitive Latina" so that gives her special knowledge and two full decks of trump cards.


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