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Historic Health Care Case At The Supreme Court

We size up three days of historic Supreme Court hearings on the U.S. Constitution and health care.

This artist rendering shows Paul Clement speaks in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, Tuesday, March 27, 2012, as the court continued hearing arguments on the health care law signed by President Barack Obama. Justices, seated from left are, Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer, Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, Chief Justice John Roberts, Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg Samuel Alito and Elana Kagan. (AP)

This artist rendering shows Paul Clement speaks in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, Tuesday, March 27, 2012, as the court continued hearing arguments on the health care law signed by President Barack Obama. Justices, seated from left are, Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer, Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, Chief Justice John Roberts, Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg Samuel Alito and Elana Kagan. (AP)

And so the high court came to the bottom line yesterday in health care reform’s legal debate: Does the federal government have the Constitutional authority to do what Congress voted for in the Obama health care reform?

And the instant analysis on the courthouse steps? No. That in tone and skepticism and body language, the court’s conservative majority was suggesting no. That reading was a long way from a final answer. But it’s all up in the air now.

This hour, On Point: broccoli, cell phones, and health insurance. The Supreme Court at the heart of the health care debate.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Kurt Lash, professor of law and director of the program on Constitutional theory, history and law at the University of Illinois. He’s the author of The Lost History of the Ninth Amendment.

Jeffrey Rosen, professor of law at the George Washington University. He’s the author of The Supreme Court: The Personalities and Rivalries that Defined America.

David Cutler, professor of applied economics at Harvard University, one of the architects of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act being debated this week in the Supreme Court

From Tom’s Reading List

The New York Times “With the fate of President Obama’s health care law hanging in the balance at the Supreme Court on Tuesday, a lawyer for the administration faced a barrage of skeptical questions from four of the court’s more conservative justices.”

Wall Street Journal “The Supreme Court’s five conservative justices on Tuesday sharply challenged the Obama administration’s arguments for the health-care law, with Justice Anthony Kennedy saying the government has a “very heavy burden of justification” for the measure’s requirement that people carry health insurance or pay a penalty.”

The New Yorker “Across the ideological spectrum, the Justices, through their questions to the lawyers arguing for and against the upholding the A.C.A., declined the invitation for delay. They all (that is, the eight who asked questions; Clarence Thomas did not) seemed to recognize that there were legal and prudential reasons to resolve this issue now.”

Transcript: Oral Arguments Day Two

Here’s the transcript of the second day of Supreme Court oral arguments in the case over the health care reform legislation. You can hear an audio recording of the case here.

[Use the navigation bar at the bottom of this frame to reformat the excerpt to best suit your reading experience.]

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