Stakes are high as Supreme Court takes on Obamacare

Today, the United States Supreme Court began hearing oral arguments in what many consider one of the most important, consequential issues presented in the nation’s history: challenges to the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) – the sweeping health care law enacted by Congress in March 2009. Due to the extraordinary nature of the matter, the court has called for six hours of oral arguments, today through Wednesday (March 26-28). The court is expected to issue its decision by the end of June.

Among the many entities pursuing legal challenges to the PPACA are a majority of states – appropriately and necessarily so. Among the core considerations for these states is the 10th Amendment to the United States Constitution; part of the Bill of Rights:

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

The relationship between the states and the national government they created with the enactment and ratification of the Constitution and subsequent ratification of the Bill of Rights has deteriorated into a morass of abuse and co-dependency. States that are petitioners in the PPACA challenge recognize that this effort is essential if they are to succeed in re-establishing the functional relationship – balanced federalism – established by the Founders. 

Failure to assert the sovereignty of states in this manner would be nothing less than the enabling of a national government drunk on (illegitimate) power and complicity in the demise of the nation Abraham Lincoln described as “the last best hope of earth.”

Citizens interested to understand and monitor this high-stakes matter at a deeper level are encouraged to avail themselves of the insights and developments in the following resources and associated links:

  • As announced in a March 16 U.S. Supreme Court press release, “[b]ecause of the extraordinary public interest…the Court will provide the audio recordings and transcripts of the oral arguments on an expedited basis through the Court’s Website.” Click here to read or listen to today’s proceedings and click here for links to the orders, briefs, and other information about the cases.
  • Over the next week, PPACAction, a project of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, will provide ongoing information and updates about the oral arguments in the Obamacare challenge. The foundation’s policy staff will break down the legal, political, and economic issues raised by the case, analyze the arguments as they occur, and explain what the likely fallout from the decision will be.

“Most of the pre-argument discussion has centered on the constitutionality of the individual mandate, the requirement within the ACA that everyone who can afford it must purchase health insurance. … There is, however, another critical constitutional question being considered by the Supreme Court with these cases that has been largely overlooked by the media and commentators. The issue is whether Congress has impermissibly coerced states through ACA’s expansion of the jointly administered Medicaid program.”

  • Obamacare: The reckoning,” commentary by Charles Krauthammer, The Washington Post, published March 22 (included in the March 25 Deseret News, with the headline “Obamacare is an example of the Leviathan state”).

“Obamacare dominated the 2010 midterms, driving its Democratic authors to a historic electoral shellacking. But since then, the issue has slipped quietly underground. Now it’s back, summoned to the national stage by the confluence of three disparate events: the release of new Congressional Budget Office cost estimates, the approach of Supreme Court hearings on the law’s constitutionality and the issuance of a compulsory contraception mandate.”

  • Obamacare’s contract problem,” commentary by George Will, The Washington Post, published March 23 (included in the March 25 Deseret News, with the headline “Court can stop the road to unlimited government”).

“Hitherto, most attention has been given to whether Congress, under its constitutional power to regulate interstate commerce, may coerce individuals into engaging in commerce by buying health insurance. Now the Institute for Justice (IJ), a libertarian public interest law firm, has focused on this fact: The individual mandate is incompatible with centuries of contract law. This is so because a compulsory contract is an oxymoron.”