Supreme Court Oral Arguments, Day 2: What We’re Reading

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Today the Supreme Court moved on to the second of their three full days of oral arguments debating the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). Yesterday the Court considered the applicability of the Anti-Injunction Act (AIA). Today’s arguments address the most controversial aspect of PPACA: the individual mandate to acquire health insurance coverage. When the mandate starts in 2014, anyone who does not have health care coverage will have to pay a fine. At the same time, however, new rules for insurers will require them to issue coverage to any individual who applies, regardless of health status. The federal government is arguing that the individual mandate is a method of regulating commerce and economic activity, while opponents argue that the mandate represents an unprecedented level of intrusion and directly compels individuals to act, meaning that it regulates inactivity.

A complete transcript of today’s arguments is available here.

With news and commentary coming in fast on this issue, here are a few articles and blogs we’re reading:

  • POLITICO provides 5 Supreme Court takeaways and 7 of the most telling moments from the arguments so far. In a telling moment for the fate of the Anti-Injunction Act, Chief Justice John Roberts pointed out that the AIA did not prevent the Court from ruling on the constitutionality of Social Security.
  • Kaiser Health News provides a handy guide to what happened at the Supreme Court for Day 1 and Day 2.
  • Check out analyses of the oral arguments and the justice’s questions from The Washington Post here and The New York Times here. At the end of the day, there seems to be general consensus in media coverage that Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito will strike down the law, while Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan will uphold.
  • That leaves Chief Justice John Roberts and Anthony Kennedy as swing votes. Many of the questions asked about the mandate today were about the possibility of a slippery slope of increased regulatory authority – does the mandate to purchase health insurance mean that there could be a mandate to purchase burial insurance? Can the government force me to eat broccoli? But the questions asked don’t always clearly indicate the justices’ final decisions. Head over to SCOTUS Blog for an in depth look at today’s proceedings.

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2012-03-27 00:00:00
Arguments hinged on the Affordable Care Act’s most controversial component, the individual mandate