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Justices signal possible trouble for Obamacare mandate

Mirror Founder

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Report this Mar. 27 2012, 4:18 pm

http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/la-pn-justices-signal-possible-trouble-ahead-for-health-insurance-mandate-20120327,0,423592.story


 


Reporting from Washington—

The Supreme Court's conservative justices Tuesday laid into the requirement in the Obama administration's healthcare law that Americans have health insurance, as the court began a much-anticipated second day of arguments on the controversial legislation.

Even before the administration's top lawyer could get three minutes into his defense of the mandate, some justices accused the government of pushing for excessive authority to require Americans to buy anything.

"Are there any limits," asked Justice Anthony Kennedy, one of three conservative justices whose votes are seen as crucial to the fate of the unprecedented insurance mandate.

PHOTOS: Demonstrations outside Supreme Court

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. suggested that the government might require Americans to buy cellphones to be ready for emergencies. And Justice Antonin Scalia asked if the government might require Americans to buy broccoli or automobiles.

"If the government can do this, what else can it ... do?” Scalia asked.

The tough questioning of the administration's lawyer is no sure sign of how the justices will rule when they hand down their decision in the case, Department of Health and Human Services, et al., vs. State of Florida, et al., likely in June.

But Tuesday’s arguments may signal trouble for the mandate, widely seen as a cornerstone of the law's program for achieving universal healthcare coverage for the first time in the nation’s history.

With the court's four liberal justices expected to vote to uphold the sweeping law, the administration will have to win over at least one of the five justices on the court's conservative wing.

Few believe Justices Clarence Thomas or Samuel A. Alito Jr. will support the mandate. That has made Scalia, Kennedy and Roberts the focus of intense speculation for months.

Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. tried to argue that the insurance mandate would not open the door to other requirements to buy products because healthcare is unique.

"Virtually everyone in society is in this market,” said Verrilli, who was prodded on by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and other liberal justices. That means that if someone elects not to get health insurance but then gets sick, as everyone will, that person will pass along costs to everyone else, Verrilli explained.

To prevent that, the administration has argued that that Congress can use its authority under the commerce clause of the Constitution to impose the mandate as a means to regulate health insurance.

The Constitution says Congress has the power to "regulate commerce" and to impose taxes to promote the general welfare. The court has in the past upheld federal laws regulating all manner of business -- from agriculture and aviation to who can be served at the corner coffee shop -- and Roberts, Scalia and Kennedy have in other cases supported the government’s broad authority in that area.

But Tuesday, the three -- and Alito -- repeatedly criticized the requirement to buy health insurance as forcing people to enter a market, which they said was a new and troubling use of federal power.

"That changes the relationship of the individual to the federal government," Kennedy said.

The architects of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act included an insurance requirement after years of experience with insurance markets suggested that it is very difficult to guarantee health insurance to everyone, including people with preexisting medical conditions, without a way to induce younger, healthier people to get covered. That offsets the cost of insuring older, sicker ones.

Under the law, most Americans, starting in 2014, will have to get a health insurance plan that meets a basic set of standards or pay a tax penalty that will rise from $95 in 2014 to $695 in 2016. (The penalty for a family will be up to $2,085 in 2016.)

Health policy experts warn that without some incentive to get insurance, people could wait until they got seriously ill and then sign up for coverage, pushing up premiums for everyone.

The mandate was once embraced by both political parties. But more recently, it has been seized on by conservative critics of the healthcare law as an egregious example of government overreach. And it became the crux of lawsuits challenging the healthcare law by 26 states and plaintiffs represented by the conservative National Federation of Independent Business.

Over the last two years, federal courts across the country have issued conflicting rulings on the insurance requirement, though only one appellate court has backed the constitutional challenge to the law. Two high-profile conservative judges have supported the mandate.

Mirror Founder

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Report this Mar. 27 2012, 7:32 pm

Justice Sotomayor is skeptical about the government's case:


 


http://mrctv.org/videos/justice-sotomayor-skeptical-about-claims-individual-mandate-isnt-justified-limitless-interpretation-commerce-clause


 


 

DammitJim6200

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Report this Mar. 27 2012, 7:51 pm

The American people supports Obama, thats all he needs..Obama is the JFK of the 21st century.  

DammitJim6200

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Report this Mar. 27 2012, 7:51 pm

The American people supports Obama, thats all he needs..Obama is the JFK of the 21st century.  

FleetAdmiral_BamBam

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Report this Mar. 28 2012, 9:48 am

Quote: DammitJim6200 @ Mar. 27 2012, 7:51 pm

>

>The American people supports Obama, thats all he needs..Obama is the JFK of the 21st century.  

>
Not even close.  There may be some that support Obama, but the majority of people don't support Obamacare.  Why do you think Obama is a god?


bvbpl

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Report this Mar. 28 2012, 9:59 am


He didn’t say Obama was God, he said Obama is the new JFK.  You may think JFK is God, Bam, but the rest of the world doesn’t put the man on that high a pedestal. 


In any case, judging a Supreme Court cased based on oral arguments is a recipe to be wrong.  Examination of the oral arguments isn’t a good means to predict how the court will rule.  The system is designed to be confrontational and Kennedy is just confronting the defenders of the law.  That’s what’s supposed to happen.   

FleetAdmiral_BamBam

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Report this Mar. 28 2012, 10:13 am

Quote: bvbpl @ Mar. 28 2012, 9:59 am

>He didn’t say Obama was God, he said Obama is the new JFK.  You may think JFK is God, Bam, but the rest of the world doesn’t put the man on that high a pedestal.
You should read the rest of his posts...  DJ worships Obama.


FleetAdmiral_BamBam

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Report this Mar. 28 2012, 10:14 am

Quote: bvbpl @ Mar. 28 2012, 9:59 am

>In any case, judging a Supreme Court cased based on oral arguments is a recipe to be wrong.  Examination of the oral arguments isn’t a good means to predict how the court will rule.  The system is designed to be confrontational and Kennedy is just confronting the defenders of the law.  That’s what’s supposed to happen.
To a point, absolutely correct.  But some of their questions and how they're asked point to their views.  And when a Justice has to lecture someone on the Enumerated Powers....


bvbpl

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Report this Mar. 28 2012, 10:26 am

Justices lecture lawyers during EVERY case before the Court. 

FleetAdmiral_BamBam

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Report this Mar. 28 2012, 10:51 am

Quote: bvbpl @ Mar. 28 2012, 10:26 am

>

>Justices lecture lawyers during EVERY case before the Court. 

>
I don't know about that... but when a lawyer goes completely anti-Constitutional..... one of the Justices does.


FleetAdmiral_BamBam

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Report this Mar. 28 2012, 10:52 am

Reading the LA Times (online) today - talking about today's portion and the Justices talking about killing the entire Obamacare atrocity.


FleetAdmiral_BamBam

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Report this Mar. 28 2012, 11:01 am

Oh... and then the Justice who doesn't like the US Constitution.... Ruth Bader Ginsburg.... says that they need to do a "salvage job" on it....  Since when is it the Court's job to salvage anything anti-Constitutional? 


Mirror Founder

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Report this Mar. 28 2012, 2:12 pm

I am now wondering if the Obama administration is rehearsing for a sit-com. There is no other way to explain this hilarious bit of news:


 


http://freebeacon.com/white-house-tries-to-rebrand-mandate/


 


The Obama administration is now referring to Obamacare as a “bi-partisan bill” and calling the unpopular individual mandate “a Republican idea,” following three days of tough questioning by the Supreme Court.


“The Affordable Care Act is a bipartisan plan and one that we think is constitutional,” Deputy White House press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters on Wednesday afternoon.


No Republican voted for the Affordable Care Act on final passage.


He also referred to the individual mandate as the “individual responsibility” clause of the bill, in an attempt to distance the administration from the term individual mandate.


“The administration remains confident that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional; one of the reasons for that is that the original personal responsibility clause…was a conservative idea,” he said.


Conservatives have blasted the administration for the individual mandate and only one Republican voted for Obamacare in both houses of the legislature.


Earnest deflected questions about the future of the law and Solicitor General Donald Verrilli. Many analysts have said that the court is likely to overturn Obama’s signature law after conservative members of the court, as well as Obama appointee Justice Sonia Sotomayor, bombarded Verilli with blistering questions over the mandate.


“There have been lower court cases where conservative judges have posed difficult, tough questions to Department of Justice lawyers … and conservative judges, who posed tough questions ended up upholding the Affordable Care Act,” he said.


Some also questioned the Verrilli’s performance, as he stumbled and coughed at times in defending the bill on Tuesday. Earnest defended the attorney.


“He’s one of the brightest legal minds in Washington, D.C.,” he said. “He gave a very solid performance before the Supreme Court, that’s just a fact.”


The spokesman did not know if President Obama had listened to trial transcripts, as he was flying back from Seoul, South Korea. He repeatedly said that the administration is not preparing contingency plans if Obamacare is struck down.


“We are focused on implementing all of the provisions of the law because they are important benefits,” he said, adding “we’re not, no,” when reporters asked again if alternative strategies are being considered.


“If there’s a reason or a need to consider contingencies down the line, then we will.”


The Heritage Foundation has been credited with introducing the concept of the individual mandate during the debate over Hillary Clinton’s healthcare reform almost 20 years ago, but has since come to oppose it. It is not the only group that has changed sides on the issue: Obama slammed then-rival Hillary Clinton over the mandate on the campaign trail.


“We still don’t know how Sen. Clinton intends to enforce a mandate … you can have a situation, which we are seeing right now in the state of Massachusetts, where people are being fined for not having purchased health care but choose to accept the fine because they still can’t afford it, even with the subsidies,” Obama said. “They are then worse off: They then have no health care, and are paying a fine above and beyond that.”


The mandate helped Obama win favor among the healthcare industry, which donated $2.3 million to his 2008 campaign. His fundraising among the healthcare industry has not slowed in 2012, with Obama raking in more than $360,000 from drug makers.


The Supreme Court finished its final day of hearings concerning Obamacare today, with arguments focused on whether a rejection of the individual mandate would invalidate the entire law.


The court is expected to issue a ruling in June.

FleetAdmiral_BamBam

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Report this Mar. 28 2012, 3:14 pm

Quote: Mirror Founder @ Mar. 28 2012, 2:12 pm

>The Obama administration is now referring to Obamacare as a “bi-partisan bill” and calling the unpopular individual mandate “a Republican idea,” following three days of tough questioning by the Supreme Court.

>“The Affordable Care Act is a bipartisan plan and one that we think is constitutional,” Deputy White House press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters on Wednesday afternoon.

>No Republican voted for the Affordable Care Act on final passage.

>
I find it sad when someone tells 1% situation and calls it "fact."  A part truth is the worse kind of lie.


They consider it a "Republican idea" because of Romneycare - they even call it the "Father of Obamacare."  As for bi-partisan.... well a single person - Joseph Cao - voted for the draft bill, but voted against the final.  (Cao subsequently lost his re-election in a landslide to a Democrat.)


Mirror Founder

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Report this Mar. 28 2012, 8:04 pm

Justices poised to strike down Obamacare in its entirety.


http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/la-pn-justices-poised-to-strike-down-entire-healthcare-law-20120328,0,2058481.story


 


Reporting from Washington—

The Supreme Court's conservative justices said Wednesday they are prepared to strike down President Obama’s healthcare law entirely.

Picking up where they left off Tuesday, the conservatives said they thought a decision striking down the law's controversial individual mandate to purchase health insurance means the whole statute should fall with it.

The court’s conservatives sounded as though they had determined for themselves that the 2,700-page measure must be declared unconstitutional.

"One way or another, Congress will have to revisit it in toto," said Justice Antonin Scalia.

Agreeing, Justice Anthony Kennedy said it would be an "extreme proposition" to allow the various insurance regulations to stand after the mandate was struck down.

Meanwhile, the court's liberal justices argued for restraint. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said the court should do a "salvage job," not undertake a “wrecking operation." But she looked to be out-voted.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. said they shared the view of Scalia and Kennedy that the law should stand or fall in total. Along with Justice Clarence Thomas, they would have a majority to strike down the entire statute as unconstitutional.

An Obama administration lawyer, urging caution, said it would be "extraordinary" for the court to throw out the entire law. About 2.5 million young people under age 26 are on their parents' insurance now because of the new law. If it were struck down entirely, "2.5 million of them would be thrown off the insurance rolls," said Edwin Kneedler.

The administration indicated it was prepared to accept a ruling that some of the insurance reforms should fall if the mandate were struck down. For example, insurers would not be required to sell coverage to people with preexisting conditions. But Kneedler, a deputy solicitor general, said the court should go no further.

But the court's conservatives said the law was passed as a package and must fall as a package.

The justices are scheduled to meet Wednesday afternoon to debate the law's Medicaid expansion.

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