Monday, the Supreme Court began hearing arguments about the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, the healthcare legislation passed in 2010 that is regarded as the landmark accomplishment of Barack Obama's presidency thus far. Monday's arguments focused mainly on whether the Supreme Court could even hear the case yet, since fines associated with the contested portions of the law do not go into effect until 2014. Tuesday's hearing will focus on the most controversial measure of the law, the individual mandate, which requires that all Americans be covered by health insurance, either through their employers or under individual plans, or pay a fine. Wednesday will center around whether the law can stand if the individual mandate is eliminated. Wednesday will also include arguments over the expansion of Medicaid to subsidize an estimated 17 million more lower income Americans.
Clocking at six hours total, this is the longest period of arguments the Supreme Court has devoted to a single issue in over 40 years.
The court's decision isn't expected until late June, but the debate over the healthcare law is nevertheless at full volume. U.S. News Debate Club took on the issue, with former Sen. Rick Santorum, a Republican candidate for president, arguing,
The Constitution includes a list of enumerated powers that Congress possesses with most of the authority reserved for the states. The Founders never intended that those powers would grow and expand to the point where Congress could one day force Americans to purchase health insurance.
Obamacare is an unprecedented departure from our system of limited government.
Meanwhile, Affordable Care Act supporter Elizabeth Wydra, chief counsel at the Constitutional Accountability Center, asserts,
Our Constitution's text and history demonstrate that the national healthcare crisis—in which tens of millions of Americans lack access to quality, affordable care—is the sort of national problem that the framers of our founding charter wanted the federal government to have the power to solve.
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