On Monday, the Supreme Court began hearing oral arguments addressing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Day one of the oral arguments focused on the application of the “Anti-Injunction Act,” which could prohibit the Supreme Court from ruling on the constitutionality of PPACA (if it is considered a tax law) because the penalties would not become applicable until 2015. Although both parties agree that the Supreme Court’s review should not be barred by the Anti-Injunction Act, the Supreme Court is required to determine whether the issues to be considered regarding PPACA are within the scope of its jurisdiction. Most commentators agree that based on the Justices’ questions regarding this issue, it is unlikely that the Supreme Court will postpone their review until the penalties become applicable.
The Supreme Court resumed on Tuesday to hear oral arguments regarding one of the most controversial aspects of PPACA – the requirement that individuals purchase health insurance or pay a penalty (commonly referred to as the “individual mandate”). First, the U.S. government argued that the individual mandate is within Congress’s authority to regulate interstate commerce under the Commerce Clause. Then, the 26 states challenging the constitutionality of the individual mandate argued that the mandate exceeds the scope of Congress’s authority under the Commerce Clause because the mandate requires individuals to actively engage in commerce when they might not otherwise choose to do so. The Justices peppered both sides with challenging questions regarding the limits of the Commerce Clause and posed interesting hypothetical situations, including two notable situations involving broccoli and burial insurance.
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