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Supreme Court Overturn Health-Care Reform

Conservatives have been quick to declare that “ObamaCare is on life support” in the wake of Monday’s decision by federal district court Judge Henry E. Hudson in Virginia that the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) requirement to buy health insurance is unconstitutional. But in truth Virginia’s attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli, won only a partial victory. He sought to have the entire law overturned, but instead only the section creating an individual mandate was. Hudson also declined to prevent the law’s implementation while the courts sort out the constitutional question. The individual mandate is due to take effect in 2014, and implementation of the other provisions will proceed in the meantime.Easy To Insure ME has the answers

Far from ensuring the eventual dissolution of health-care reform, Hudson’s decision actually guarantees only one thing: that the constitutionality of the individual mandate will ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court. The result, and its timing, is unknown, but experts generally predict that the Supreme Court won’t be ruling on the issue for another two years and that it will likely be a 5–4 majority—but which way that majority will go is unclear. Although it garnered less attention, the ACA has been upheld as constitutional by two district courts. (Those cases, one in Virginia and one Michigan, were lower profile because they were filed by conservative organizations rather than a state government.) If lower-court decisions had consistently upheld the law, there would have been a possibility of the Supreme Court declining to weigh in. Conservative legal scholars readily concede that Monday’s Virginia court decision and a forthcoming one in Florida that is expected to follow similar lines do not mean health-care reform will necessarily be overturned. “Ultimately this is going to go to the Supreme Court, and these are the beginning skirmishes,” says Ilya Shapiro, a senior fellow in constitutional studies at the libertarian Cato Institute who filed an amicus brief in support of Cuccinelli’s challenge.

When the Supreme Court does weigh in, it is presumed that the justices will generally split along partisan lines based on who appointed them, with all four Democratic appointees voting to uphold the law. (The judges who have upheld the law thus far were Democratic appointees, while Hudson was appointed by George W. Bush.) So will all five Republican appointees on the Supreme Court, who usually form a bloc in close decisions, vote to overturn the individual mandate? Justice Anthony Kennedy, who was appointed by Ronald Reagan, sometimes sides with the court’s more liberal wing. And this might be such a case: since the 1930s, when the court accepted the New Deal, it has generally defined the federal government’s power to regulate interstate commerce very broadly. In 1942 the court held in Wickard v. Filburn—the most relevant precedent for this case—that a farmer growing wheat for his own chickens, above a maximum of growth allowed per acre at the time, was subject to federal regulation under the commerce clause because the resulting extent to which a farmer does not buy wheat to feed his chickens on the market affects the national market price of wheat.

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