Obamacare in the Supreme Court 101

Joan R. Neubauer's picture

The Supreme Court has scheduled arguments in the case of Obamacare on March 26, 27, 28, a case that has the potential to profoundly affect America in one way or another.

The case against Obamacare comes down to one core issue, its constitutionality or lack thereof, particularly in regard to the individual mandate. Twenty-six states have filed suit against the law. They contend that the government has overstepped its bounds in requiring people to purchase health insurance, or any product or service for that matter. The court will hear oral arguments over three days and then will hand down their ruling, probably by mid-June.

On March 26, the court will being hearing one-hour arguments that focus on whether or not the court can even reach a decision before 2014. According to some legal eagles, as reported by Sam Baker of The Hill some feel there is a possibility that the court cannot rule on the law until the individual mandate actually takes effect.

On March 27, the justices will hear two hours of arguments on the core question of whether the individual mandate is unconstitutional. The government is expected to argue that the law is a tax, and since the Constitution gives the federal government the power to tax, they have the power to impose the individual mandate. Those filing suit against the law will argue the government’s first denials that the law is a tax and that the Constitution gives no power to government to require purchase of any product or service.

And on March 28, the court will hear further arguments on two other issues. They will argue about whether the rest of the healthcare law can stand if the individual mandate is struck down and if the law’s Medicaid expansion is constitutional. Those who oppose such expansion will argue that it is not compatible with federalism, the founding philosophy of the Constitution.

If the high court does indeed rule in favor of the individual mandate's constitutionality it may set a precedent that could result in the expansion of federally mandated purchases of goods and services. Hypothetically, they could mandate that you buy a particular kind of car because the government deems it good for you. In addition, it will reinforce the present administration’s idea that the country wants a shift to the left. This could have great political ramifications for the upcoming election in November.

If, on the other hand, the court strikes down the individual mandate some believe the rest of the law will not be able to stand on its own. Such a ruling by the court will then put the healthcare system back the way it was before Obamacare came along, however, many will still call for some kind of reform. In addition, it will send a different message to Washington, one that they may not want to hear, one that says that people want less government intrusion in their lives. In any case, we should all watch this case very carefully and how the Justices eventually rule because it will affect us all in one way or the other.

Image source: Wikipedia

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