If the U.S. Supreme Court finds ObamaCare constitutional, a California attorney says conservative states will be put "under the thumb of the federal government."
Today is the third and last day the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The decision reached in the landmark hearing will determine whether the federal government can require all citizens to purchase health insurance. The court has also heard arguments from a handful of states and will decide if the rest of the act can be implemented without the individual mandate portion of the law, if it is found to be unconstitutional (see earlier story).
Matt McReynolds, an attorney with the Pacific Justice Institute (PJI), explains what this decision will mean for conservative states.
"If the court upholds the ability of Congress and the president to adopt this type of major takeover of an industry, then there is virtually nothing left for the states to exclusively govern," he warns. "This means that more conservative states especially will bear the brunt and be under the thumb of the federal government to tell them what to do with virtually no restraint."
PJI notes that the law covers thousands of regulations, including the contraceptive mandate that has drawn criticism from a number of religious groups.
Create it so you can regulate it
Day two of arguments at the high court was anything but subdued, and attorney Robert Muise expects the final decision to be close (Listen to audio report).
Several justices, including Anthony Kennedy, reportedly asked pointed questions about the law in yesterday's hearing. The focus was whether Congress had exceeded its constitutional authority in requiring Americans to purchase insurance or pay a penalty. Robert Muise of the American Freedom Law Center (AFLC) says most analysts expect Justice Kennedy to be the swing vote.
"Kennedy only minutes into the arguments asked the solicitor general -- quote -- 'Can you create commerce in order to regulate it?' -- unquote -- and that's exactly the point," Muise offers. "Here the government is not regulating commerce; they're regulating inactivity. In fact, they're compelling, forcing people as a matter of federal law under penalty to engage in commerce. And then, once they're engaged in commerce, Congress is then seeking to regulate them under the Commerce Clause. So it flips the Commerce Clause on its head and it … really does give the federal government unbridled power to regulate all aspects of human existence."
The AFLC founder argues that that is contrary "to the basic construct of our Constitution, where the federal government has limited enumerated powers."
By all indications, Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan support the law. Based on questioning from several justices, Muise cautiously predicts a 5-4 vote against ObamaCare. The verdict will be reached by June.
Contact: Becky Yeh and Charlie Butts