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Obamacare arguments, day 2: ‘Train wreck for the Obama administration’

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By Doug Powers  •  March 27, 2012 03:25 PM

**Written by Doug Powers

Today was “mandate-mania” at the Supreme Court, with both sides arguing the constitutionality, or lack thereof, of the individual mandate in the health care law. It didn’t seem to go well for the Obama administration.

From The Hill:

Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, the court’s traditional swing vote, appeared skeptical Tuesday that President Obama’s healthcare mandate is constitutional.

Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. faced aggressive questions from Kennedy, as well as the court’s other conservative justices, in the second of three days of oral arguments in the landmark case.

Tuesday’s arguments on the mandate are the pivotal point in this week’s debate, and the questions focused on the government’s argument that requiring consumers to purchase health insurance or face a fine is constitutional.

Liberal justices on the court appeared to be more favorable to the government’s argument on the mandate, and if they unite behind the law, the Justice Department would need to just peel Kennedy away to secure a majority.

But Kennedy didn’t sound like he was in the administration’s camp on Tuesday.

The Reagan appointee argued the court has a “very heavy burden of justification” for requiring that people purchase insurance. He also identified the insurance mandate as the first time the government has used its regulatory powers to force citizens to buy a product.

“That changes the relationship of the federal government to the individual in a very fundamental way,” Kennedy said.

All that after Verrilli did a nice warm-up act yesterday and got everybody in a laughing mood? In the administration’s health care law defense, however, they’re just now finding out what’s in it.

Also today, Chief Justice John Roberts asked if the government can make people buy cell phones to facilitate response for those who need emergency medical services (silly question… they wouldn’t have to because the government will give them away).

CNN’s Jeffrey Toobin said Tuesday was a “train wreck” for the Obama individual mandate argument:

*****

On Wednesday look for the Solicitor General to use Toobin’s report as an opportunity to point out to the Justices that any injuries suffered during train wrecks are in fact fully covered by Obamacare (ABC: Always Be Closing).

Here’s what’s up tomorrow:

On Wednesday the justices will hold morning and afternoon sessions. Two questions will be before them: whether, if the so-called individual mandate is declared invalid under the U.S. Constitution, the entire healthcare overhaul is doomed; and whether Congress has the authority to require states to expand eligibility under Medicaid, the joint federal-state program that provides health insurance for the poor. Part of the sweeping healthcare law would extend eligibility to individuals with income up to 133 percent of the U.S. poverty level.

Dave Weigel Tweets:

You never know… it might work.

Update: James Carville told Wolf Blitzer that the Supreme Court overturning Obamacare would be the best thing that could happen to Democrats this year. Considering who Team Obama has arguing the case on their behalf, maybe they understand that and are trying to throw the game.

**Written by Doug Powers

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