by Jeremy Leaming
As expected the Supreme Court announced this morning that it will review a legal challenge to President Obama’s landmark health care reform law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
The high court, as noted by SCOTUSblog and The New York Times, set aside five and half hours of oral argument in the case involving the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit opinion invalidating an integral provision of the health care reform law. In August, the 11th Circuit ruled 2-1 that the minimum coverage provision, which requires some individuals to carry health care insurance starting in 2014 or pay a penalty, is unconstitutional. In late September, the Department of Justice asked the Supreme Court to review the 11th Circuit opinion.
White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer, said in a statement released earlier today, “We know the Affordable Care Act is constitutional and are confident the Supreme Court will agree.”
Georgetown University law school professor Randy Barnett, an opponent of the Affordable Care Act, told The New York Times, “It is high time for the high court to strike down this unconstitutional, unworkable and unpopular law.”
ACS President Caroline Fredrickson said:
The Supreme Court has agreed to provide a welcome resolution to the ongoing debate over the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. Long-standing precedent shows that Congress can regulate commerce in the national interest. If Congress can’t regulate an industry with such a huge impact on the U.S. economy, is there any limit on a judge’s ability to undermine federal stewardship of equally pressing issues?
Time and again the high court has reaffirmed the established power of lawmakers to address national problems with national solutions. We eagerly await a clear and categorical statement by the Court affirming the Act’s constitutionality and ensuring that the Constitution is not a straightjacket on the legislative branch. Only a radical or cramped reading of Congress's constitutional power to regulate commerce could lead the Court to find the law unconstitutional.
Just last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled in favor of the law’s minimum coverage provision. Judge Laurence H. Silberman, a Reagan appointee, concluded, in part, “The right to be free from federal regulation is not absolute, and yields to the imperative that Congress be free to forge national solutions to national problems, no matter how local – or seemingly passive – their individual origins.” In an article for Slate, Simon Lazarus, author of ACS Issues Briefs on the health care law, and public policy counsel for the National Senior Citizens Law Center, explains why Silberman’s opinion could carry considerable influence for the high court’s conservative justices.