NPR Morning Piece on Today’s Supreme Court Arguments on the Health Care Law

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The challengers contend that Congress, in order to pay for near-universal health care coverage, has for the first time required individual citizens to buy a commercial product they may not want.

"The reason we want people who are young and relatively healthy to buy health insurance is not because we are terribly concerned that those people are going to get unhealthy and end up in the emergency room," says Paul Clement, who is representing the states. "What we really want is those people to be part of the risk pool and contribute their premiums so that we can afford to pay for the health care for the other folks."

The government counters that health care is different because everybody will receive medical care at some point.

Read or listen to it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal Issues

12 Comments
Posted March 27, 2012 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Br. Michael wrote:

There are alot of things everone may need.  This is, at its heart a utlitarian argument (this is a real good thing) for an expansion of federal power that renders a key provision of the separation of powers and the concept of limited federal power a nullity.

It actually amends the Constitution using the Supreme Court as a sitting constitutional convention.

March 27, 9:33 am | [comment link]
2. Archer_of_the_Forest wrote:

No. 1, While I agree in principle with what you are saying, I don’t see at this point without a radical departure from precedent, how the Supreme Court can deny what the government is arguing. Looking back on all the stuff FDR pulled as part of the New Deal back in the 1930’s (most of which was never overturned or outlawed by legislation), I simply don’t see how the courts can deny the logic of the government’s case. I mean, the government then forced people to sell their gold if they had more than a pittance amount (though this was seldomly ever enforced); The government forced farmers to not produce food in excessive amounts (farm quotas and subsidies). The government forces people to pay into Medicare (this is not New Deal, but another logical extension thereof). The list goes on and on. The way the courts for over a century have expanded the power of the Federal Government over that States time and again, I don’t see how they can get around all precedent that without abrogating a whole bunch of other established judicial rulings, some of which were actually legimate. I mean, look at the cutesy way the commerce clause was used as the sole premise to dismantling segregation.

March 27, 9:59 am | [comment link]
3. Archer_of_the_Forest wrote:

My point being that people are afraid a ruling in favor of the government’s reach here will be a death knell to any hope of balance of Federal power. But, we hit that point decades ago.

March 27, 10:02 am | [comment link]
4. Br. Michael wrote:

In part yes, and in my dreams the Court overrules Wickard v. Filburn,  but if Wickard represents the outer limit of the commerce clause, this is clearly beyond that.

But if you and the others are content that the Constitution should have no meaning and govermnent is not bound by it then neither are the people.

March 27, 10:31 am | [comment link]
5. jkc1945 wrote:

I note that, in recent polling, about 72% of the American public (as polled) ‘believe that Obamacare is unconstitutional.’  Of course, this is completely irrelevant to what the SCOTUS will find or how they will find it, but it could a very powerful polling, as it might relate to the November elections.  That is, if 72% is an accurate number, if SCOTUS finds in favor of the Administration, there may be a wideranging reaction to that at the polls.  So. . . . this may be a ‘win-win’ situation of sorts, for the conservatives who are fighting Obamacare.

March 27, 10:47 am | [comment link]
6. Catholic Mom wrote:

Of course many many surveys have found that very few Americans actually know what the principle freedoms of the Bill of Rights are and that a significant number of American people, when asked,  identify “freedom of the press” and “freedom of speech” as “not a part of the Constitution.”    I suspect only a small percentage of Americans can recognize the words “commerce clause”  as having to do with the Constitution (or could before this all started) or state what it is. I would not quote the average guy on the street as a expert in the Constitution, much less constitutional law.

March 27, 11:03 am | [comment link]
7. Br. Michael wrote:

Actually, it seems that the average citizen hasn’t a clue about basic civics.  And that does not bode well for the survival of the US as a representative republic.  What I see is the Roman Republic in decline and we know how that ended.

March 27, 11:32 am | [comment link]
8. David Keller wrote:

#6—But they think the “right to abortion” and the “separation of church and state” are in there.  We took our children out of public schools many years ago because the three R’s have become Racism, Recycling and Rosa Parks.

March 27, 11:56 am | [comment link]
9. Catholic Mom wrote:

I realize you weren’t quoting them as experts, BTW, but as voters.  My point is just that, as always, if the public figures that people trust tell them something is “unconstitutional” they’ll parrot back that it’s “unconstitutional” and if the public figures say its “constitutional” they’ll parrot back that it’s “constitutional.”  It would be nice if people knew enough about the constitution and of the arguments pro and con on any given issue to make up their own minds, but they almost certainly won’t.

March 27, 12:01 pm | [comment link]
10. Archer_of_the_Forest wrote:

No. 7, I completely agree with that. I am astounded at my conversations with college students at how little they know and how little it appears that they were actually taught. The local high school where I live never gets past the civil war in the American history class due to time constraints from the stupid “4 block” class system. The civics class is a complete joke. It is really more of a modern social problems class. They never actually talk about the Bill of Rights or any of the substantive stuff behind constitutional law.

All because none of it is actually tested on an SAT or ACT at all. Seldom is there a single question on any of it, unless it happens to come up in the essay sections, at which point the knowledge they know (or lack thereof) is moot because what is graded is how well they write a response to a given scenario in the question and are spoon fed any information they need to write a coherent essay. Not that I am big fan of standardized tests, but in the current school culture, unless it is tested, it will not be covered. 

As a side note, one of the General Ordination Exam Questions this year had to do with the Episcopal Church and slavery. It was one of I think 4 or 5 questions in the section that the ordinand could choose from to answer. The GOE test grader that is a member of my parish said very ordinands chose to answer that question, and the ones that did nearly universally failed the question abysmally. They could give no answer why or base why from any reading of scripture or tradition or even discuss what role the Episcopal church even had in slavery. He showed me one of the answers and it was basically, “Dude, slavery was wrong because it was wrong. Isn’t the Episcopal church great for having combated racism?”

I about jumped out the window because that was the topic of my Seminary masters’ thesis. Most of the power brokers and/or slave owners in the South were Episcopalian from Jefferson Davis to Robert E Lee on down. Many of the political justifications for secession were aped almost verbatim from Henry VIII’s legislation breaking from Rome. The Southern and British diplomats were even writing letters back and forth with each other, often ending with prayer quotations from the Book of Common Prayer. (The British diplomats never did this with Yankee diplomats, instead offering generic prayers for well being.)

March 27, 12:12 pm | [comment link]
11. Northwest Bob wrote:

If O-Care is not constitutional, shouldn’t forcing hospitals to treat uninsured patients without cash up front also be unconstitutional?  You can’t have it both ways.
Cheers,
NW Bob

March 27, 8:04 pm | [comment link]
12. Br. Michael wrote:

11, you may be right.  What power does the federal government have to compel totally free services?  13 Amendment and all that may have some bearing.  As for state governments, they have the power, but it is limited by their own constitutions and the federal constitution.

March 28, 6:23 am | [comment link]
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