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Supreme Court Review of the Affordable Care Act: A Summary of the Oral ArgumentsApril 2, 2012
The Supreme Court recently heard oral arguments relating to the constitutional challenges to the federal health care reform law, known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (the "ACA"). Oral arguments consumed more than six hours of time over the course of three days – the longest time set aside for a Supreme Court case in more than 40 years.
A central focus of the Supreme Court's review is the constitutionality of the ACA's so-called "individual mandate," pursuant to which Congress requires virtually all Americans to obtain health insurance by 2014, or pay a penalty with their tax returns until they do. Specifically, the Court is considering whether Congress exceeded its authority under the Constitution in enacting the individual mandate, and, if so, whether any portions of the ACA can survive if the individual mandate is declared unconstitutional. The Court is also considering whether any challenge to the individual mandate prior to its effective date in 2014 is barred by a federal tax law known as the Anti-Injunction Act. And finally, the Court is considering a challenge brought by 26 states, asserting that the ACA's expansion of Medicaid eligibility is unconstitutional.
In the attached memo, we summarize each day of oral argument and offer some thoughts as to its implications for the federal health care reform law. It is important to note that it is not possible to predict the outcome of a Supreme Court case based on the questions asked during oral argument, although oral argument does allow some insight as to issues that are of particular concern to the Court.