The U.S. Supreme Court will take up ObamaCare in March and give the matter 5-1/2 hours of oral argument. The findings are expected to be handed down in June 2012. When the legislation passed, Congress claimed the mandate to force every American to purchase healthcare under the Commerce Clause was lawful. Then as all of us became more familiar with the Commerce Clause, and it became clear that the Commerce Clause likely does not such thing, the White House argument became, the mandate was actually a tax. From the Democrat side of the aisle, the mandate had to work because the mandate pays for everyone who cannot pay – hence, Progressives reason, it’s a tax, and Congress has the power to tax.
At the heart of the legal battle is whether Congress overstepped its powers by requiring that all Americans buy health insurance by 2014 or pay a penalty, a provision known as the individual mandate…
The high court could leave in place the entire law, it could strike down the individual insurance mandate or other provisions, it could invalidate the entire law or it could put off a ruling on the mandate until after it has taken effect.
This morning, the U.S. Supreme Court granted writs of certiorari to one of the Obamacare constitutional challenges: Florida v. HHS. Florida v. HHS is the key case, coming up from the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, in which Obamacare’s individual mandate was overturned. Both sides appealed the Eleventh Circuit decision, with HHS appealing the voiding of the individual mandate, and Florida et al. appealing the decision by the Eleventh Circuit to uphold the remainder of the law (the lower court had overturned ObamaCare in its entirety).
With respect to HHS’ appeal, the Supremes will focus on Question 1 of HHS’ petition: “Whether Congress had the power under Article I of the Constitution [i.e., the Commerce Clause] to enact the minimum coverage provision [i.e., the individual mandate].”
For Florida’s appeal, the Court will also focus on Question 1, which is: “Does Congress exceed its enumerated powers and violate basic principles of federalism when it coerces States into accepting onerous conditions that it could not impose directly by threatening to withhold all federal funding under the single largest-grant-in-aid program, or does the limitation on Congress’ spending power that this Court recognized in South Dakota v. Dole, 483 U.S. 203 (1987), no longer apply?” This is the complaint that Obamacare forces states to expand their Medicaid programs in violation of the Tenth Amendment, one that the states have so far lost in every lower court.
In addition, the Supreme Court asked the Florida v. HHS parties to brief and argue whether or not the suitviolates the Anti-Injunction Act, the statute that has been at issue in some of the other lower-court cases. The Anti-Injunction Act aspect of the case revolves around whether or not the mandate is a “penalty,” as most courts have ruled, or a “tax,” as some judges have argued.
In the meantime, the calls for Justice Elena Kagan to recuse herself from the bench, as she served as Obama’s Solicitor General during the crafting of the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) and likely helped to draft the defense of it. She says she had little input, but when it comes to telling the truth, Kagan has a sorry history. Read that here.