Last Updated: March 13, 2013
Judicial Watch filed an amicus curiae brief on February 13, 2012, with the United States Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare (United States Department of Health and Human Services, et al., State of Florida, et al. (No. 11-398)). The Supreme Court has scheduled oral arguments for the Obamacare case on March 26, 27 and 28, 2012.
With its amicus curiae brief Judicial Watch maintains that the “individual mandate” provision of Obamacare, which requires every American citizen to purchase health care insurance or pay a penalty, is unconstitutional, whether considered under Congress’ commerce power or taxing power:
Petitioners are trying to defend a provision in an act passed by Congress that exceeds its enumerated powers. Though Congress enacted this provision under the Commerce Clause, Congress’ power under the clause is not broad enough to compel Americans to engage in commerce by purchasing a particular product. Though Petitioners try to rescue the provision by arguing that it is valid under Congress’ taxing power even if it is invalid under Congress’ commerce power, a provision of an act that is not a tax may not be construed as a tax merely to save it from being declared unconstitutional.
Judicial Watch further argues that if the Supreme Court affirms the constitutionality of the so-called individual mandate, “it must be willing to hold that Congress’ powers under the Commerce clause are plenary and unlimited, for there remains no principled way to limit Congress’ power if it is stretched as far as Petitioners (the Obama administration) ask.”
The Judicial Watch amicus was filed in support of a challenge to Obamacare by Florida and 25 other states.
Demonstrating the importance of the legal battle over Obamacare, the Supreme Court will hear five-and-a-half hours of oral argument, a rare allotment of time in the court’s modern era. The Supreme Court’s scrutiny will focus on the constitutionality of the Obamacare individual mandate. The court will also consider whether other components of Obamacare could take effect even if the individual mandate is ruled unconstitutional, among other issues.
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