Healthcare Reform
12:26 pm
Mon March 26, 2012

Supreme Court Begins Hearing Case Challenging Healthcare Reform

The U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear three days of arguments challenging the constitutionality of President Obama’s healthcare law Monday.

Justices will hear several different legal arguments against the Affordable Care Act, but their first question will be whether it is too soon for the high court to review the law.

The reform has been heralded by supporters as historic and criticized by opponents as an overreach of federal powers mainly for its individual mandate provision. The president’s overhaul requires all Americans buy health insurance or pay a penalty through their taxes beginning in 2014.

Congressman John Yarmuth, D-Ky., voted for the legislation two years ago. He says the court is unlikely to overturn the law given decisions on prior cases.

“I’m cautiously optimistic the court will uphold the law. It’s pretty clear that the four Democratic appointed members will support the law because of their prior decisions and a number of the Republican appointees have also in past decision given a very expansive interpretation of the commerce clause,” he says.

The high court’s Republican appointees hold a 5-to-4 majority, but legal experts often cite the decisions of two conservative federal appellate judges who sided with the Obama administration. Others are paying close attention to Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is the court’s swing vote and will likely decide the fate of Mr. Obama’s historic legislation.

The healthcare law’s defenders say the individual mandate is legal under interstate commerce precedent. The White House has not developed plans for a legislative replacement for the individual mandate should it be struck down by the Supreme Court.

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., predicted the court’s chances of overturning the healthcare law are “50-50″ but that efforts to reform the system should continue regardless.