In this first of a four-part series on the health reform case before the Supreme Court, Jones & Bartlett Learning author and health policy expert Joel Teitelbaum weighs in on the topic of the Anti-Injunction Act.
During the final week of March, the United States Supreme Court engaged in an historic debate about the meaning and constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (known as Affordable Care Act, or ACA). The debate was historic for several reasons: its content, focused as it was on perhaps the most sweeping health law in the nation’s history, and certainly of the past 50 years; its precedential importance, given that the Court is poised to make potentially enormous changes to Congress’s Commerce and Spending Clause powers; and its length, with oral arguments spanning a record three days.
The Court agreed in November 2011 to hear oral arguments on a series of legal issues that arose as a result of nearly 30 legal challenges to the ACA since its passage in March 2010.
The four issues the Court agreed to consider are:
- Whether the ACA’s individual coverage requirement (also referred to as the individual mandate) is a tax for purposes of the Anti-Injunction Act.
- Whether Congress has the power under Article I of the Constitution to enact the minimum coverage requirement.
- Whether, if the coverage requirement is found unconstitutional, it is “severable” from the remainder of the ACA.
- Whether the ACA’s requirement that states expand Medicaid eligibility or risk losing federal funds is unduly coercive in violation of the Tenth Amendment.
In this blog post, the first of a four-part series, I focus on the first question. The next post will focus on questions two and three, and the third blog post will discuss the question concerning the Medicaid expansion. In the final blog post, I will describe the Court’s eventual ruling in the case, which is expected by the end of June (when the current Supreme Court Term ends).