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Arguments – pro and con – justices will hear on the individual mandate

U.S. Supreme Court

REUTERS/Larry Downing

Precedent suggests the U.S. Supreme Court will side with Congress.

  •  Wickard v. Filburn: In 1942, the Supreme Court ruled that the federal government has the right to regulate economic activities as simple as the crops a farmer grows for his own private use, since such an action would change what he purchases on the open market, and therefore have an effect on the economy at large;
  •  Gonzales v. Raich: In 2005, the court ruled that a federal law superseded a California statue legalizing medical marijuana. Individuals growing and distributing their own marijuana were influencing the national marijuana market, and thus, Congress has the right to step in regulate the practice.
Timothy R. Johnson
Timothy R. Johnson

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Comments (9)

How will they rule?

Lord knows. Their decisions have been questionable, at best. And the latest bit has been appallingly unified.


As constitutionalists, the four conservative justices will find throwing out Obamacare to be a no-brainer.

The key is whether or not they can convince Kennedy that this is a dangerous and unprecedented power-grab by the federal government.

And if the individual mandate falls, so does Obamacare, which is based on mandatory participation for its success.

People are NOT required to buy insurance

They have a KNOWN choice--buy healthcare insurance--or pay a tax penalty. So, the "mandatory purchase" part does not exist. Is this fair? Absolutely. Why? Because they are still able to get healthcare even if they have not paid for it (via insurance) and do not intend to pay for it because the bills are too high ($50k, $60k, etc--which would reasonably be covered by insurance). Social and govt policy generally does not allow them to be left to suffer the consequences of their bad choices (i.e. Wall Street, etc)--which would be to let them die (which would eliminate a lot of those people over time if it were permitted to happen). Thus, the penalty is the price they pay for having available the services they will use involuntarily when needed.

Is the individual mandate a tax or is it a penalty?

That's a key question before the court next week, too, and it's possible that the justices could decide it's a tax.

If so, then the Tax Anti-Injunction Act, which prevents taxpayers from challenging the legality of taxes that haven’t yet been assessed against them, would mean that the SCOTUS has decided that it cannot rule on the individual mandate until 2014 (when the "tax" would first be applied).

And 2014, of course, is after the 2012 elections, which is a very tempting carrot dangling in front of a court that may be very reluctant to make a very political ruling that could -- nay, WOULD -- change the outcome of the 2012 presidential election.

In other words, the SCOTUS may decide to punt this one into the future.

Except that

The Obama administration has already claimed that it's NOT a tax.

Freedom and Liberty

Our Founding Fathers are rolling in their graves to know that liberal progressives have distorted the original intent of our Founding Fathers, our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution. We should all be concerned with the loss of FREEDOM Americans have witnessed over the last 50-100 years. Our Founding Fathers would no longer recognize these United States. This is truly sad!!

More like rolling their eyes

at the outrage expressed by those who support a party that would put a red stamp of government on our uteruses, levy an indirect poll tax, and proclaim "Christian" rule over the entire country.

rolling over

They are already spinning over bad decisions the court made, including the 2000 that awarded the presidency to George Bush, the Citizen United Case, and many others.

The court precedent that is most important

in deciding this case is U.S. v. Butler, a 1936 case which held a part of the Agricultural Adjustment Act unconstitutional because it involved farming which categorically could not be "interstate commerce." If this Court rule Obamneycare unconstitutional, they'll use more orotund phrases and more BS, but the bottom line is that we oce again wind up once again in the "horse and buggy" days with a court that has its head up it's whatsis just as it was in 1936.