It all comes down to the Commerce Clause
That Obamacare will set a U.S. Supreme Court modern record with 5.5 hours of allowed debate shows just how important the highest court considers it, says Patrick Wright, senior legal analyst for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.
“The court knows it is a big deal,” Wright said. “This will determine whether there are any legal limits on the federal government’s power left or if the only check on their power is fear of political consequences.”
After more than a year of bouncing around the lower courts, the U.S. Supreme Court announced it will decide on the legality of President Barack Obama’s health care package.
Many legal experts believe it will come down to the “individual mandate” that all Americans must purchase health insurance by 2014. The individual mandate has been allocated two hours of the 5.5 hours of debate in front of the Supreme Court.
It comes down to how the mandate plays within the Commerce Clause listed in the U.S. Constitution that gives Congress its power to regulate commerce.
“At some point, you have to curb the power of the government under the commerce clause,” said Robert Muise, the senior trial counsel for the Thomas More Law Center, which filed a complaint in the lower courts over the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. “Where would you draw the limit of Congress’ power if they have the authority to do this (force people to buy insurance)? I think five of the judges are going to realize that and strike it down.”
Kermit Roosevelt, a professor of law at the University of Pennsylvania law school, said he thinks the Supreme Court will uphold the legality of the individual mandate.
“If you imagine a spectrum running from zero to 100, with zero being very liberal, 100 being very conservative, and 50 being moderate, it looks to me as though you only get votes to strike down the law from judges in the 75-100 range,” Roosevelt wrote in an email. “The Supreme Court now is pretty conservative, but I don’t think that there are five justices who are that conservative, especially since this is an issue about the range of Congress’s power. That’s an issue where the traditional liberal/conservative split doesn’t always predict votes as well, since some of the ideologically conservative justices actually aren’t that enthusiastic about states’ rights. So I believe the Court will uphold the individual mandate.”