Yesterday the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on whether it has to wait to hear challenges against the health care reform law until 2015 when the first penalties must be paid following the implementation of the individual mandate in 2014. Neither the government lawyers nor those representing the 26 states believe the court is barred from hearing the case under the Anti-Injunction Act, which prohibits a person from bringing a lawsuit claiming that a tax is unlawful until after the tax has been paid. So the High Court appointed an independent, private attorney to argue that the Court did not have jurisdiction to decide the matter. That attorney's argument hinged on the theory that the penalty assessed under the law on those who fail to obtain health insurance is the same as a tax, thus the court must wait to hear the case until after 2015. According to NPR, the justices "appeared not to be buying" that argument.
Yesterday's arguments are available in audio files and a transcript.
Today's arguments focused on the individual mandate and if such a regulation is permissible under the Commerce Clause that allows the federal government to regulate interstate activity. Challengers of the law believe that the decision not to buy health insurance is economic inactivity, rather than activity, and therefore not a behavior the federal government can regulate, says the Washington Post. Proponents argue that the decision to not purchase health insurance has an economic effect because taxpayers essentially pay for the uninsured.
Tomorrow the justices will hear arguments on whether the law can stand if the individual mandate is struck down. Additionally, lawyers will argue the part of the law that expands Medicaid.
A ruling is expected in June.