Obamacare goes to the Supreme Court

Can Obamacare challengers convince five justices that the law is unconstitutional?

WRITTEN BY: Brittney Elkins
Obamacare, the health care reform bill framed by President Obama, is under review by the Supreme Court this week.
Image Source: United States Senate via Wikimedia Commons
Obamacare, the health care reform bill framed by President Obama, is under review by the Supreme Court this week.

Obamacare is under review by the Supreme Court this week.

The constitutionality of Obamacare is in question, but groups challenging the health care act have to convince at least five of the nine justices of the U.S. Supreme Court that the law is unconstitutional.

Monday was the first day of the Obamacare review, and justices seemed skeptical of the idea that the individual mandate to buy health insurance is legally separate from the penalty of failing to buy health insurance.

The government argues that the penalty and mandate are linked. If this can be proven, then the penalty would be considered a tax. President Obama has steered away from the word “tax” when talking about Obamacare, but if the penalty is a tax, the law is allowed under Congressional taxing authority. Obamacare would then be constitutional.

Challengers of Obamacare will argue this week that the mandate and the penalty are two separate things. If they succeed, the taxing power disappears, and the court will have to determine whether the law exceeds Congress’s authority to regulate interstate commerce.

Ultimately, the Commerce Clause will come into question. If the federal government can penalize a private citizen to make a contract with a private entity, then is there anything the federal government can’t do?

Obamacare challengers will have a tough fight over the next few days, and the Supreme Court will certainly hear double-speak from both sides of the argument. If Obamacare is deemed constitutional, the next fight will be Obamacare vs. any health care reform bill framed by the GOP nominee later this year.

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