Supreme Court ready to hear arguments over Obamacare

Here and Now

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This spring, the Supreme Court will hear arguments over the constitutionality of President Barack Obama’s healthcare law.

The Supreme Court has booked 5.5 hours for arguments, the most in its modern era, the SCOTUSblog reported.

In the last year and a half, more than 25 cases have challenged the health care law with limited success. No appeals court has ruled against the entire health care law, and of the 12 appellate court judges who have reviewed the case, only three have decided that requiring all Americans to have health insurance is unconstitutional.

That issue, in particular, will come before the court.

“On the whole, the Obama administration has done fairly well,” said Adam Liptak, Supreme Court Correspondent for The New York Times.

The Obama administration is arguing this is constitutional under the commerce clause of the Constitution, while opponents argue this is a new, novel application of power, outside the scope of what is constitutionally allowed.

“A lot of the argument of challengers is this has never been done before in the (235) years we’ve been a nation,” Liptak said. If the federal government can force you to buy health insurance, can they force us to buy a car, or broccoli.”

Two hours of arguments are planned for the mandate to buy health insurance, another 90 minutes are planned for a discussion of how much of the law is invalidated if that mandate is thrown out. An hour is reserved for discussion of a Medicare revision and another hour is reserved for discussing whether this entire argument is premature and must wait until April 15, 2015, when the first American could file a tax return and not have health insurance. The law provides for a penalty collected through the federal income tax return.

“Five and a half hours, from a reporter’s perspective, is cruel and unusual punishment,” Liptak joked.

A decision is expected from the Supreme Court by summer 2012, which will land in the middle of the run-up to the 2012 presidential election.


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