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Obamacare at the Supreme Court: Day 1
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The U.S. Supreme Court began its three days of arguments in deciding if President Barack Obama’s Health Care is constitutional, tackling the question, first of all, whether the Court even has jurisdiction over the case.

The initiative, which was Obama’s signature pledge in his campaign for president, was put into law in 2010. Now, in the case of of Department of Health & Human Services v. Florida, Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. will be defending the new law against Solicitor General Paul Clement, who represents 26 States opposing it.

The opposition to the law is arguing against the constitutionality of its mandate that most U.S. citizens have to sign up for Health Care insurance or be penalized. On Monday, the Court focused on whether or not the penalty is a tax. According to the Anti-Injunction Act of 1867,the Court cannot determine the constitutionality of a tax before it has been collected. Both the supporters and the opponents of the law are avoiding calling it a tax, so private attorney Robert Long has been assigned to argue that it is a tax.


Verrilli’s defense of the law requires him to make the awkward case that the person who is penalized for not purchasing health care is not paying a tax, but in Tuesdays question session, when Paul Clement will make the case that this law is an unconstitutional extension of the interstate commerce clause, Verrilli will argue that the government has the authority to do this under its power to tax.

“Today you are arguing that the penalty is not a tax,” Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. said, “Tomorrow you will be back arguing that the penalty is a tax.

This was the first of three days of arguments in a question / answer session between the six lawyers and nine justices; 110 members of the public were admitted to watch, along with 117 credentialed members of the media; outside 100s of protesters and supporters rallied and demonstrated and listened to politicians such as Republican nominee Santorum, who appeared on the steps to say:

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“If you really want Obamacare repealed, there’s only one person who can make that happen. Obviously I don’t believe that Obamacare is constitutional.”

Tomorrow will look at the law’s individual mandate stipulations.


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