Today marked the last day of oral arguments for the Department of Health and Human Services v. Florida, the court case arguing the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act signed into law two years ago. The Supreme Court held three days of oral arguments, an unusually lengthy time. The legislation, commonly referred to as ObamaCare, established a government mandate that every American purchase health insurance, among other things. It was an extremely controversial law and according to a recent Gallup poll, 72 percent of Americans believe the individual mandates are unconstitutional. Congressman Westmoreland submitted an amicus brief asking the Supreme Court to repeal the law.
"This week capped more than two years of fighting by the American people and 26 states to declare ObamaCare unconstitutional," stated Westmoreland. "I want to congratulate the State of Florida, Paul Clement, the National Federation of Independent Businesses and all of those who have worked on and supported this case from the very beginning. I think opponents to this law gave an impassioned and clear argument as to why it is unconstitutional and I strongly encourage the Supreme Court to uphold the Constitution and repeal ObamaCare."
On day one of oral arguments, the Court heard arguments on whether the penalty for not purchasing health insurance was a tax or a penalty. If it was deemed a tax, under the Tax Anti-Injunction Act, the Court could be prevented from reviewing the law until after the penalty is collected in 2014 or 2015. From the justices' questions, it did not appear as though they planned to push their decision until the law was fully enacted. On day two, the Court heard arguments on the constitutionality of the individual mandate, the heart of the law. The government argued they are constitutional under the Commerce Clause and the opponents argued they greatly exceed the scope of the U.S. Constitution. Day three saw arguments as to whether the entire law should be struck down if the individual mandates are deemed unconstitutional and whether Congress can force states to expand their Medicaid programs by withholding all Medicaid funding if they did not.
"One of the most telling moments during the arguments was when Justice Kennedy asked the government, "Can you create commerce in order to regulate it?' Clearly the answer to that is no," stated Westmoreland. "If the Supreme Court allows this law to stand, it will open the flood gate to the federal government intruding in every aspect of your life. Although we will not know the Court's final decision until they release it, I think many clues were given during their questions that seem to indicate they will side with the U.S. Constitution and the American people and find the individual mandates unconstitutional."