DOJ To File Its First Brief in Supreme Court Case on Health Reform Law
On Friday, the Department of Justice will file its first brief to the Supreme Court in the case focusing on the constitutionality of the federal health reform law, The Hill's "Healthwatch" reports.
The first brief is expected to center on whether it is within Congress' constitutional power to require U.S. residents to purchase health insurance through the individual mandate.
According to "Healthwatch," some observers have said that the issue of congressional power is a weakness of the Obama administration's defense of the overhaul. Some opponents of the reform law have argued that if Congress can require U.S. residents to purchase health coverage, it also can compel them to purchase other products or services.
The administration argues that upholding the requirement would not lead to other mandates because the health care market is unique, in that providers are legally required to treat patients who cannot pay while insured residents and the government cover the costs.
However, observers note that the administration has not yet delineated the so-called "limiting principle" for the individual mandate, which states where Congress' power to compel U.S. residents to act ends. In the past, when courts have evaluated new applications of Congress' power, they typically have asked where the limits to those powers end, according to "Healthwatch."
For example, in its ruling -- which declared the overhaul unconstitutional -- the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals stated, "Ultimately, the government's struggle to articulate ... limiting principles only reiterates the conclusion we reach today: There are none."
Ilya Shapiro, a legal scholar at the Cato Institute, said, "DOJ has to do a better job of answering, 'What goes beyond your theory of federal power?' They've been asked this in every court, and they've never satisfied the court" (Baker, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 1/5).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.