For many concerned about the arguments presented in the Supreme Court this week on the constitutionality of Obamacare, Tuesday's session was perhaps the most crucial. The issue argued Tuesday was whether Congress has the power under the U.S. Constitution to require individuals to purchase health insurance.
The following is an excellent write-up from the Texas Public Policy Foundation in Austin:
KEY POINTS FROM THE ARGUMENT: Several of the justices expressed skepticism about the propriety of the mandate. Justice Kennedy stated that the mandate “changes the relationship of the Federal Government to the individual in the very fundamental way.” Justice Scalia said that a law which violates the principle of limited powers cannot be “proper” within the meaning of the Necessary and Proper Clause. And Justices Roberts and Alito seemed deeply troubled by the government’s inability to articulate a limiting principle for the federal commerce power.
The Justices who seemed to favor the mandate’s constitutionality did not seem to agree on the basis for sustaining the law. Justice Breyer effectively conceded the challengers’ argument that upholding the mandate would make federal authority unlimited. Justice Ginsburg, by contrast, focused more narrowly on the costs uncompensated care have on the wider health insurance market.
TPPF's ANALYSIS: The federal government was unable to answer the obvious question: if the federal government can require people to purchase health insurance, what can’t it do? The federal government could not articulate a limiting principle. Today’s arguments make it fairly clear that a majority of the justices are likely inclined to strike the mandate down. The Court’s ultimate ruling will hopefully give further clarity to the Constitution’s limits on the federal commerce power, particularly by confining the “substantial effects” doctrine to the Necessary and Proper Clause.
The experts at TPPF are: Mario Loyola is the Director of the Center for Tenth Amendment Studies, and lead author on the four amicus briefs filed by the Foundation in the ObamaCare challenge. Josiah Neeley is a Policy Analyst with the Foundation and co-author on two of the amicus briefs filed by the Foundation with the Supreme Court. Spencer Harris is a Policy Analyst with the Center for Health Care Policy, and one of the lead authors of the Foundation’s Medicaid reform proposal.
You can follow along with continued updates at their new website devoted to the arguments at the Supreme Court: www.PPACAction.com