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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Will the Court Decide ACA's Constitutionality On a Party-Line Vote?

Harvard Law School professor Laurence Tribe wrote an op-ed in the New York Times yesterday rejecting the claim that the Supreme Court will overturn President Obama's health care reforms by a 5-4 party-line vote. Professor Tribe states that the conscious choice to opt out of carrying health insurance does indeed have a profound impact on the nationwide health care market, which puts it well within the established bounds of the Constitution's Commerce Clause:

The justices aren’t likely to be misled by the reasoning that prompted two of the four federal courts that have ruled on this legislation to invalidate it on the theory that Congress is entitled to regulate only economic “activity,” not “inactivity,” like the decision not to purchase insurance. This distinction is illusory. Individuals who don’t purchase insurance they can afford have made a choice to take a free ride on the health care system. They know that if they need emergency-room care that they can’t pay for, the public will pick up the tab.
Tribe argues that consistent court precedent since the New Deal has given Congress broad constitutional power to regulate interstate commerce and that it is an insult to the Court to assume that the conservative justices will ignore clear precedent for partisan reasons.

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