As ObamaCare Hearings Begin, 5 Things to Watch

Today's the day at the Supreme Court
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 26, 2012 7:04 AM CDT
Updated Mar 26, 2012 7:52 AM CDT
As ObamaCare Hearings Begin, 5 Things to Watch
A police officer stands in front of the Supreme Court on the eve of oral arguments on President Obama's health care legislation, in Washington, Sunday, March 25, 2012.   (AP Photo/J. David Ake)

The Supreme Court will hear three days of arguments on the constitutionality of President Obama's health care law starting today, and Politico offers up five things to keep an eye on:

  • Do politics enter the discussion? It will be difficult for the justices to ignore the political debate that has raged over this issue, and liberal justices could argue that the voters should ultimately decide on the law's constitutionality by voting Obama out (or not). Some opponents of the law actually hope the court upholds it, ensuring GOP voters are fired up to throw Obama out of office in November.
  • What questions will the justices ask? The justices already know the case inside and out and don't have many "real" questions to ask, one expert explains. Therefore, the questions they do ask will be aimed at swaying their colleagues to their way of thinking. If John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, or Anthony Kennedy is going to provide the winning vote to Obama's side, the biggest hint may come in the questions they ask.

  • What happens if the individual mandate is tossed out? If the most controversial part of the law is struck down, the justices will have to decide how much, if any, of the Affordable Care Act should remain standing. Most experts agree that at least two other provisions, both related to insurance for people with pre-existing health problems, would not stand without the mandate—but there is also the unlikely possibility that only the mandate will be struck down, leaving Congress to sort out the rest.
  • Will we have to wait until 2015 for an answer? If the justices determine, based on today's arguments, that the penalty for not following the individual mandate and purchasing insurance is a tax, then they cannot rule on the law until after Americans have actually paid that
  • tax.
Click for the complete analysis, including how the government will answer "the broccoli question." (More health care reform stories.)

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