The long-awaited day has finally come. Two years after the Obama administration passed the much-maligned Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), the Supreme Court today finally begins to hear oral arguments over the constitutionality of the law. And the hype is so large that spectators have been queuing up for days just to get seats in the courtroom.
The March 23, 2010, law, which President Obama intended to radically overhaul health care for millions of Americans, has been reviled by Republicans and the masses alike, who claim its scope is too intrusive and is an albatross for states, businesses and the individuals the President intended to help.
The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments for the next three days. Today’s arguments are seen more as an appetizer to the meat of the hearings, which begin tomorrow. The arguments today center on whether the Anti-Injunction Act, which forbids a lawsuit to challenge a tax before the tax has been paid, precludes the court from considering the constitutionality of the PPACA until 2015 when individuals could first sue for a refund on fines imposed for failure to comply with the bill’s individual mandate.
On Tuesday, the court is expected to hear arguments on the constitutionality of the individual mandate, and on Wednesday, the court will consider whether the rest of the health care bill, or parts of it, can remain in place if the individual mandate is struck down.
The law’s critics contend that the entire law should be invalidated, while the Obama administration counters, saying the PPACA’s provisions aren’t connected to the mandate and should remain in place regardless of whether the insurance requirement is axed.
While there has been significant discussion about whether or not the Supreme Court would finally relent and allow cameras into the courtroom, culminating with the Senate Judiciary Committee last month passing a bill to allow for such coverage, the court will keep the cameras on the outside for the time being. The court itself will provide audio recordings and transcripts of the oral arguments on an expedited basis through its website, while C-SPAN has live coverage from outside the building.