Supreme Court Oral Arguments, Day 3: What We’re Reading

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

On Monday, the Court considered the applicability of the Anti-Injunction Act (AIA), and on Tuesday, it considered the constitutionality of the individual mandate to acquire health insurance coverage. Today was the last of three days of oral arguments on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).

The Supreme Court heard arguments this morning on the severability of the individual mandate, considering whether the ACA must be invalidated in its entirety – or which, if any, provisions would likewise fall – if the mandate is deemed unconstitutional. The Justices heard three arguments: if the mandate falls, the whole law falls; if the mandate falls, insurance reforms go with it; and if the mandate falls, the rest of the law is upheld.

The federal government argued that if the individual mandate is struck down, the court should eliminate the community rating and guaranteed issue provisions, while the opponents argued that if the individual mandated is overturned, the entire law should fall.  

This afternoon, the Supreme Court heard arguments on the Medicaid expansion, considering whether Congress has exceeded its powers by making the flow of federal Medicaid funds to states conditional on coverage expansion. The 26 states party to the case argued that the expansion is unconstitutionally coercive.

An audio recording and transcript of the severability issue is available here.

An audio recording and transcript of the Medicaid issue is available here.

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

  • AP reports that Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer voiced disagreement with the states’ claim that the Medicaid expansion is coercive. “Why is a big gift,” Justice Kagan asked, “from the federal government a matter of coercion?”
  • POLITICO reported disappointment among Republicans over today’s session on Medicaid– Chief Justice Roberts’ questions hinted at skepticism around the states’ case.
  • The Wall Street Journal reports disagreement regarding the rest of the law should the mandate fall. Justice Ginsburg said that there are so “many things in this Act that are unquestionably okay” that if they need to decide between a “wrecking operation” or a “salvage job,” the “more conservative approach would be salvage.” She suggested Congress would have to make those decisions. On the other hand, Justice Scalia said it would be “totally unrealistic” to think that the Supreme Court would “go through this enormous bill item by item and decide each one.”
  • Check out analyses of the oral arguments and the justice’s questions from The Washington Post here and The New York Times here.
  • Head over to SCOTUSblog for an in depth look at today’s proceedings.

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2012-03-28 00:00:00
Final act: Supreme Court hears arguments on Medicaid and the severability of the individual mandate