Supreme Court May Rule On Constitutionality Of National Health Care Law

Posted on September 29, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

by Caren Z. Turner

In what could potentially result in a devastating blow to President Obama’s signature legislative victory, the Supreme Court may review a challenge to the Affordable Care Act which could result in a ruling that it is unconstitutional in its entirety. The review was requested by 26 state attorney generals who are challenging the healthcare reform law’s mandate that individual’s must purchase health insurance.

“This case offers this court an ideal vehicle to resolve pressing and persistent constitutional questions arising out of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” said lawyers for the states. “It represents an unprecedented challenge — involving over half of the states in the nation — to an unprecedented legislative initiative.”

The states’ petition to the Supreme Court comes just two days after the Justice Department declined to seek a rehearing of a finding by the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that the health care reform law’s individual mandate was unconstitutional. While the issue was expected to end up before the Supreme Court eventually, the Justice Department’s risky decision undeniably hastens the process and could prove to be politically untimely – and potentially devastating – for the President: if the Supreme Court takes the case (which is expected, considering two circuit courts have recently made conflicting rulings on the same provision), then its decision would likely be handed down in June of 2012, a mere four months before the general election.

And there is a good possibility that the Supreme Court would declare the healthcare law unconstitutional. In such an event, the defeat to the President would be almost irrecoverable and his reelection almost certain to fail.

National Journal summed the matter up rather succinctly:

The unpopularity of health care reform legislation helped Republicans win big in the 2010 elections. Republican presidential contenders pound the legislation relentlessly before their fans, and the eventual nominee will certainly use the law as an argument against the president. That the law will play a major role in next year’s elections is a foregone conclusion. Whether Republicans will have a much stronger argument that the seminal achievement of Obama’s first term was fundamentally unconstitutional is something the Supreme Court will decide.

And Obama has left that decision in the hands of a narrowly divided Court, one that is almost assured of dividing 5-4 on the constitutionality of an individual mandate. Whichever side the majority falls is likely to be decided by Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Kennedy will never be on a ballot, but the Obama administration has bolstered the possibility that Kennedy’s decision will be the president’s running mate next year.

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2 Responses to “Supreme Court May Rule On Constitutionality Of National Health Care Law”

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In one sense I think there was an expectation that the federal government would engage a consortium of private insurers, and thereafter each person would have a right to contract with the federal government for insurance. Each insured in effect a third party beneficiary, paying to the federal government which in turn would be in a position to negotiate pricing for coverages. Then, like many other nations with successful national insurance, a fee for service approach would be established. We pay for insurance, then pay a service amount for treatment to a provider, This amount- when we complete the prescribed treatments- would be substantially refunded. E.g. pay $200 for dental care and complete required cleanings and exam, recommended treatments, and receive say..90% back. Incentives to be healthy and maintain a level of care to prevent illness as much as possible.
In the present scenario, There is nothing that would gain approval of certain Justices except perhaps a political approval from conservatives. The nation badly needs this legislation, it is constitutionally efficacious, each living person in the US is in fact engaged in interstate commerce by virtue of provision in the federal healthcare system for each of us. Anyone who has ever breathed has been included for appropriations, expenditures, plans and budgets for- emergency care, national defense, disaster relief; by the way we apportion funds for minimal medical care, emergency medical care. By the way we nationally search for communicable diseases and contract for vaccines to protect against epidemics and pandemics, or build and maintain a civil defense medical care capacity. There is a litany of federal spending for most of the past century–we are each in a national healthcare network, and have been from birth.

But despite all I expect there would be some incredible and tortured logic to find that we are not engaged by life and breath in interstate commerce, some residuum of 10th Amendment perhaps to stand a patent reality upon its head; to achieve a political result that will once again damage an idea of progress that was- unlike so much of today’s political currency- debated and put before the people for election in 2008. We need healthcare Reform for the most basic of governmental policies- to promote life and longevity among the people of the United States, it is simply larger than the people who oppose it, it is the reason for Government.

I have studied Constitutional Law at the Robertson School of Government and I have read the first 1700 pages of the Senate version of Affordable Health Care and never has their been a more poorly written, disjointed document; it can not be read on its own but one must refer to multiple Social Security Documents. This bill ignores all ethical methods in the passage of a bill, but rather was forced through both houses by Obama, Pelosi, and Reed “in the middle of the night” and “behind closed doors” closing out both all Republicans, first, and later even closing out “Blue Dog Democrats” who feared the language concerning public dollars used for “anti-life” acts. Social Security monies were in the Senate copies struck from the records to a “zero amount.” To close the door or sign documents in the middle of the night in the meetings of our representatives of Congress or our Senate is unacceptable. Thank you Caren for covering this story and I hope that you will keep it in the forefront of American and International Readers.

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