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Audio: 10 moments from the Supreme Court debate on healthcare

March 27, 2012|By Morgan Little and David Meeks

Breyer asks whether it would be proper for the federal government to require its citizens to be immunized against a health epidemic sweeping the nation. Michael Carvin, an attorney arguing against the healthcare law, tells Breyer the government could not require such measures.
JUSTICE BREYER: I'm just picking on something. I'd like to just -- if it turned out there was some terrible epidemic sweeping the United States, and we couldn't say that more than 40 or 50 percent …

Justice Stephen Breyer by Los Angeles Times

Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. brings up the possibility that the mandate itself shifts costs illogically, and in doing so commits the very same offense it’s seeking to remedy.

Alito says the reason that insured people absorb the costs of the uninsured is because the government has required hospitals to treat people who lack insurance, and instead of paying for it with a tax on everyone it has allowed the cost of uncompensated care to be shifted to those who buy health insurance.
JUSTICE ALITO: Mr. Carvin, isn't there this difference between Justice Breyer's hypothetical and the law that we have before us here?

Justice Samuel Alito by Los Angeles Times

Justice Sonia Sotomayor addresses government’s role in on economic activities, and how it pertains to health costs, which Carvin tackles from the way in which state and federal compulsions interact.

Sotomayor argues that the government routinely compels economic activity similar to the purchase of health insurance.
JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR: That’s true of almost every product.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor by Los Angeles Times

The distinctions between inactive versus active participation in markets, and the divides that would have to be established between health insurance and other industries in regard to the jurisdiction of the Commerce Clause, are discussed between Justice Elena Kagan and Carvin.
JUSTICE KAGAN: Mr. Carvin, a large part of this argument has concerned the question of whether certain kinds of people are active participants in a market or not active participants in a market. And your test, which is a test that focuses on this activity/inactivity distinction, would force one to confront that problem all the time.

Justice Elena Kagan and Carvin by Los Angeles Times

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