I’ve been sitting watching C-Span 3 which is replaying the arguments today (the beginning of six hours of arguments over three days) – Today they debated whether the Healthcare Law includes a tax and, if so, does the Supreme Court have the jurisdiction to decide the case.
Reuters did a summary of the morning’s session:
LEGAL QUESTION: Whether a challenge to the new requirement that most people in the U.S. buy health insurance by 2014 or pay a penalty must wait until the penalty is due and a refund is sought. This provision of the law is known as the “individual mandate.” A central issue is whether the court should regard this as a general “penalty” or as a “tax” that would be covered by a U.S. tax law known as the Anti-Injunction Act, premised on the notion of “pay first, litigate later.”
* WHO ARGUED: Robert Long, of Covington and Burling, appointed by the court to argue that tax policy should apply and delay the case; Donald Verrilli, who as U.S. solicitor general is the government’s chief courtroom lawyer, and Gregory Katsas of Jones Day, who joined the government’s argument.
* THE HIGHLIGHTS INSIDE: A majority of justices across the ideological spectrum suggested by their questions that federal tax law would be no barrier to reaching the core question of whether Congress had the power to require people to buy health insurance or pay a penalty.
* INSIDE THE COURTROOM: Justice Clarence Thomas did not ask any questions during the session, his usual style during oral arguments. He last asked a question on Feb. 22, 2006, during arguments in a death penalty case. Among the spectators who got one of the coveted seats inside courtroom with the white marble columns and red velvet drapes were: Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius; Attorney General Eric Holder; outspoken critic of the law Alabama Republican U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions; and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who has led the challenge by the 26 states.
* THE LOWDOWN OUTSIDE: Hundreds of supporters and protesters dueled on the sidewalk chanting and marching with signs declaring their feelings about the law.
* THE DAY’S QUOTE “FOR”: Kathie McClure, an Atlanta attorney, said the law has allowed her children, who suffer from epilepsy and diabetes and are now in their 20s, to get health insurance that they otherwise would not have had. McClure was first in line for a public seat ahead of Tuesday’s second day of arguments and has been camped out since Friday. “This is personal for me. This is about my children’s’ future. But it’s really also about all the other millions of people in America who are in their same situation. In America we spend a boatload of money, trillions of dollars, and still we have a very poor outcome for our people,” McClure said.
* THE DAY’S QUOTE “AGAINST”: Sally Oljar, from Seattle, said it defies the U.S. Constitution ,o force Americans to buy anything. “I’d like to think that the Supreme Court supports the Constitution. … If they don’t, then there are a lot of us who are ready to go to jail. The day hasn’t come when the government can force me to buy a damn thing,” she said.
* UP NEXT: Tuesday is the main event of the three days when the justices will hear arguments on whether Congress, in requiring that most people in the U.S. buy insurance by 2014, exceeded its power to regulate interstate commerce.