It is looking increasingly likely that Supreme Court will hear an appeal of the ever-controversial “health care reform” law, and soon.
Both sides to a lawsuit — the Department of Justice in favor of the law, and 26 states and the National Federation of Independent Businesses in opposition — have asked the Court to accept an appeal and decide whether the law should be upheld or struck down as unconstitutional. The Supreme Court has the discretion to decline the appeal, but the fact that the appellate court declared the law unconstitutional, and the fact that both sides to the case are seeking review, should increase the chances the high court will hear the case.
Stripped of its partisan baggage, the appeal poses a fascinating legal issue: how far does Congress’ power to regulate interstate commerce extend? In prior cases, the Court has articulated an expansive view of that power. However, opponents of the new law argue that this case is different because Congress — through the “individual mandate” provision that requires all citizens to buy health insurance — is for the first time assuming the power to compel unwilling citizens to engage in commerce. Proponents of the law respond that, when it comes to health care, every living American is already affecting commerce, because those who don’t have insurance and then need health care are imposing economic burdens on the rest of us. A Supreme Court decision on this issue would go a long way toward defining, once and for all, the full extent of Congress’ power to regulate the daily lives of Americans.
If the Supreme Court takes the appeal, it would be likely to rule in the summer of 2012 — just before a presidential election where the wisdom of the “health care reform” law is likely to be a very hot topic. And the decision will come against the backdrop of a recent report that shows a sharp increase in health care costs, which undoubtedly will cause Republican candidates to blame the unpopular new law and redouble their attacks on it.