Weak arguments presented by "team Obama" lawyers supporting Obama's healthcare legislation took a beating yesterday, and the beating continued even more so today.
Please consider Day 3: ObamaCare at the Supreme Court by the Illinois Policy Institute.
Today was the final marathon session of oral arguments over ObamaCare. It began this morning with the question of what to do with the rest of the law if the individual mandate is struck down, a very real possibility after yesterday's hearing.
On this issue, both sides agree that if the mandate falls, at least some of the other provisions must fall with it. Most of the Justices seemed skeptical that the entire law should be thrown out, but where to draw the line was a question the Court was clearly struggling with.
Some of the justices hinted that the difficulty in drawing that line could mean disaster for the whole law. Others noted that the Court has never struck down the heart of a statute but left an empty shell. At one point, Justice Kennedy expressed his concern that it might be worse to pick and choose which parts to strike down than to just overturn the whole law. Justice Scalia joked that forcing the Court to go through the law's thousands of pages and provisions one by one would be cruel and unusual punishment.
The day ended with the question of whether the President can force states to expand their Medicaid programs to millions of new enrollees. As I explained earlier this week, Medicaid expansions have already failed the most vulnerable populations in Illinois, and ObamaCare is only going to make the problem worse.
The four liberal justices appeared highly critical of the state's argument that conditioning pre-existing Medicaid funding on new expansions is too coercive. The conservative justices also expressed some skepticism that the forced expansion was unconstitutional, though they did press the administration to define the outer limits of that power.
On the third and final day of Supreme Court arguments over President Obama’s health care overhaul law, several justices on Wednesday indicated a reluctance to pick and choose among the law's other provisions should the requirement that most Americans have health insurance be struck down.
The questions from the justices indicated that at least some of them were considering either striking down just the requirement, often called the individual mandate, or the entire law.
Paul D. Clement, representing 26 states challenging the law, urged the court to overturn the entire law. Edwin S. Kneedler, a deputy solicitor general, took a middle ground, suggesting that the court remove the mandate and only a couple of other provisions.
The court separated the day’s arguments into two sessions. After the morning session, which focused on the effect of overturning the mandate, the afternoon's hearing dealt with the law’s expansion of Medicaid, part of its attempt to reduce the number of Americans without health insurance.
In the second argument, the court’s more conservative justices expressed concern that the law’s Medicaid expansion was unduly coercive to states.
“My approach would be to say that if you take the heart out of this statute,” Justice Antonin Scalia said, “the statute’s gone.”
Justice Scalia, who suggested that the whole law would have to go, appeared to go further than some of the other justices, but many of them expressed skepticism that the rest of the law could remain intact if the court ruled the mandate to be unconstitutional.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg called the court’s task, should the key provision fall, a choice between “a wrecking operation” and “a salvage job.”
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