Supreme Court Divided Over Healthcare Law Following 2nd Day Of Hearings; Tilted Towards Upholding The Healthcare Law
Washington, D.C. -
The Supreme Court has concluded its second day of hearings on the healthcare law and showed a divide along ideological lines, however Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy indicated in questioning they were open to upholding the law and join with the courts four liberals.
In their questions and statements with the attorneys arguing the case, they had said they were open to upholding the law if it did not give congress broad new powers on regulating people's personal lives. In questioning they said the law could possibly be valid since everyone will eventually need healthcare at some point and that congress could be exercising its legal powers of commerce as defined in the U.S. Constitution.
In fact, only two of the court's conservative justices, Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito, were vocal in their skepticism about the validity of the requirement. Scalia in particular seemed concerned that Congress and the federal government would have unlimited powers if the law was upheld. "What is left? What else can it not do?"
Only Justice Clarence Thomas remained silent and did not ask any questions, he has not asked any questions from the bench since 2006 according to reports.
Once arguments are done, which appears to be the case, the nine justices will continue to debate the law behind closed doors before voting and writing their opinions to be released with the high court's decision which is expected in late June.
The law is being challenged by 26 different states and some private businesses as unconstitutional because it requires Americans to buy health insurance, something they argue the government can not mandate, that someone buy a commercial product, and that it amounts to a tax. However during those arguments, one of the justices said that no where in the law does it use the word tax and Justice Ginsburg added that if everyone gets health insurance, there effectively is no tax or penalty, and the government is not raising revenue.
The law comes into effect in 2014, however portions of it are already in effect, such as requiring health insurers to accept everyone regardless of pre-existing conditions, and allowing adults up to age 26 to remain on their parents heath insurance plan. Experts say those two provisions have pushed up the cost of health insurance by $100 billion and amount to an average insurance premium increase of about 2%.
Protestors for and against the law continued their demonstrations outside on the steps the Supreme Court, though it was mostly dominated by supporters. In a recent CBS poll, it reported that only 36% of Americans support the law, however 85% support portions of the law.