Heartland Institute Responds to End of Obamacare Arguments at Supreme Court

Published March 28, 2012

Three days of arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), also known as Obamacare, ended Wednesday.

The following statement by Benjamin Domenech, research fellow for health care policy at The Heartland Institute and managing editor of Health Care News, may be used for attribution. For more comments, refer to the contact information below. To book Mr. Domenech on your program, please contact Tammy Nash at [email protected] and 312/377-4000. After regular business hours, contact Jim Lakely at [email protected] and 312/731-9364.

“The Supreme Court has heard the arguments and will decide in the coming days and weeks how to proceed on what may well be the most meaningful case in a generation. After three days of fractious, strained, and sometimes humorous argument, it is clear that those prominent journalists and legal minds who just days ago said the challenge to President Obama’s health care law was unnecessary, unfounded, or a waste of time and money were completely wrong. These issues could not be more fundamental, to use Justice Kennedy’s words, in altering the relationship of citizens to their government.

“There are many reasons to hope the law will be struck down, in whole or in part – there are few reasons for supporters of the law to believe it will withstand all challenges. And for states determining how to proceed, there is every reason to delay action and implementation now until the Court and the people resolve this matter in an opinion and an election over the coming months. For those of us who favor the empowerment of consumers, the opening of marketplaces, and ending the warping influence of government mandates and overregulation, now is a time to prepare the legislation to replace Obamacare. It’s likely to be needed soon.”

Benjamin Domenech
Research Fellow, The Heartland Institute
Managing Editor, Health Care News
[email protected]

“It is often said that Justices of the Supreme Court read the newspapers. The truth of this statement was displayed during the oral arguments this week. 

“The questions asked by the justices cannot be viewed as indicative of how they will rule. But a few things are telling. First, the justices evidently do not think the penalties imposed on Americans who refuse to buy health insurance are a tax. If they bought the argument such penalties are taxes, the Court could not review this case until the taxes are imposed in 2014.

“On Tuesday, it was pretty clear the conservative majority on the Court, including the generally conservative swing vote, Justice Kennedy, was opposed to the individual mandate.

“But the most important argument today was the severability clause–indeed, the lack thereof — in the Obamacare bill. A severability clause typically says that if one part of a law is held invalid then the rest of the law remains in effect. Typically the Supreme Court has held that the lack of a severability clause is not definitive. Today, however, the Court did not express or even cite such principles, instead telegraphing its view it would not engage in doing this task.”

Maureen Martin
Senior Fellow for Legal Affairs
The Heartland Institute
[email protected]

The Heartland Institute is a 28-year-old national nonprofit organization with offices in Chicago, Illinois and Washington, DC. Its mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. For more information, visit our Web site or call 312/377-4000.