November 16, 2011
After last year's sweeping healthcare reform law drew more than 30 lawsuits challenging its constitutionality, it seemed just a matter of time before the measure had a day of reckoning at the Supreme Court. On Monday, the court announced that day would come next year, in advance of the presidential election, when it has agreed to hear appeals on five of those lawsuits and to consider at least four separate legal issues. Two of them concern the limits of congressional power, a hot-button issue for those who fear that the new law endangers personal liberty.
June 29, 2012 |
On Thursday, an unusual Supreme Court majority of "one" - Chief JusticeJohn G. Roberts Jr. - found that the healthcare law's individual mandate is unconstitutional under the power of Congress to regulate interstate commerce. But, surprise, the mandate is constitutional as a tax. This strange reasoning, not fully embraced even by the four concurring justices, handed judicial conservatives the most recent in a long parade of disappointments. No matter how controversial, contradictory and complex the ruling is, it represents a major legal victory for the Obama administration and other supporters of the Affordable Care Act. Roberts closed the open-ended commerce clause door to sweeping federal regulatory authority over just about anything.
August 12, 2011 |
A federal appeals court struck down a pillar of President Obama's national healthcare law, ruling Congress does not have the power to require all Americans to buy insurance and setting the stage for a Supreme Court decision ahead of the 2012 election. The 2-1 decision is a victory for Republican leaders in 26 states who challenged the law last year, testing whether the signature accomplishment of Obama's presidency would stand. The Atlanta-based judges echoed the complaint that the mandate represents an "unprecedented" expansion of federal power.
September 26, 2009
Republicans and Democrats have finally found common ground in the debate over the healthcare reform bills moving through Congress. Unfortunately for the bills' advocates, the two sides are united in their distaste for a central part of the legislation: the requirement that every American obtain health insurance. The complaint from the right is that forcing people to buy policies is an unconstitutional infringement on individual liberty. The critique from the left is that the mandate imposes too great a burden on members of the working class, who would have to spend up to 12% of their incomes to buy policies.
June 29, 2011 |
President Obama's healthcare overhaul survived its first test before a federal appellate court, as the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati concluded that the law's insurance requirement is constitutional. "We find that the minimum coverage provision is a valid exercise of legislative power by Congress under the Commerce Clause," a 2-1 majority of the panel concluded, rejecting a challenge by the conservative Thomas More Law Center. Notably joining the majority opinion was Judge Jeffrey Sutton, an appointee of President George W. Bush and a former law clerk to conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
March 26, 2012 |
The Supreme Court's opening day of arguments on the healthcare law will not focus on whether the Affordable Care Act is constitutional. Instead, the justices will consider whether the legal challenge to it has arrived too soon. The problem is the Anti-Injunction Act, which dates to 1867. It says, "No suit for the purpose of restraining the assessment or collection of any tax shall be maintained in any court by any person. " How does this figure in the healthcare case? It could block a suit against this key part of the healthcare law if it imposes a tax. The law seems to say that no one can sue over a tax provision until he or she has paid the tax. How is the Affordable Care Act a tax law?
December 27, 2011 |
As a Republican presidential candidate, Newt Gingrich has routinely criticized rival Mitt Romney for enacting a 2006 healthcare bill in Massachusetts that required citizens to carry health insurance. But a video and newsletter unearthed Tuesday show that Gingrich, as a private citizen, was a strong backer of the so-called individual mandate. Acknowledging that it was, “for a conservative, a little controversial,” Gingrich said in 2008 that he believed, “You've got to require everybody to either have insurance or to post a bond.” (Video below.)
March 29, 2012 |
For wont of the right word, will "Obamacare" be lost? Some analysts are predicting the demise of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, saying the Supreme Court will declare unconstitutional the law's requirement to buy insurance, then find the measure unsustainable without it. This is purely speculation, of course; the justices aren't expected to release their decision until the end of the current term in June. Nevertheless, the back and forth in the courtroom this week -- and particularly the conservative justices' grilling of Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, the administration's principal attorney -- suggested that defenders of the law would have been on much more solid ground had they made two changes in the terms used to describe one of the core features of the act. At issue are two aspects of the individual mandate, the requirement that virtually all adult Americans maintain insurance coverage.
March 26, 2012 |
The U.S. Supreme Court opened its historic session Monday to debate the constitutionality of President Obama's healthcare law. For the first time in decades, the court has set aside six hours of argument - most cases are limited to one hour - over three days. On Monday the justices started by handing down opinions before delving into 90 minutes of argument. But today's arguments do not focus on whether the Affordable Care Act is constitutional. Instead, the justices are considering whether the legal challenge to it has arrived too soon.
October 22, 2013 |
With dire reports of the Obamacare website's dysfunction rising by the hour--and the deadlines for signing up for insurance moving nearer by the day--the question on everyone's lips is: Has the time come to delay the individual mandate? Health economists Nicholas Bagley and Austin Frakt say no. But they do have a workable plan for saving Obamacare from the website's meltdown. Here's the best news: It doesn't require action by Congress. The proposal is not to delay the mandate but to waive the penalty for going without coverage, which hits people who don't have insurance by next April 1. The law sets the penalty for 2014 at $95 per person or 1% of household income, whichever is greater.