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Obamacare arguments, day 3 open thread: Fate of the mandate; Updated

By Doug Powers  •  March 28, 2012 12:12 PM

**Written by Doug Powers

If the SCOTUS strikes down the individual mandate, does the entire health care law get tossed in its entirety, or just the mandate part? That’s what this morning’s arguments at the Supreme Court revolved around. The afternoon session will hear a challenge against an expansion to Medicaid, which states are saying will be a budget buster.

The Wall Street Journal has a live blog of today’s arguments here. Listen live here (or I’ve embedded live audio below until the hearing is over). Helpful hint of the day: Turn on your computer’s stumble & stutter filter and Donald Verrilli will be much easier to understand. Speaking of that, the White House has expressed their full confidence in Verrilli — what else can they do at this point?

If you get a chance, be sure to read Thomas Sowell’s column about the argument that the Obamacare mandate is justified by “interstate commerce.”

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Update: More from the LA Times — it sounds as if a majority believe the entire law should stand or fall with the mandate:

Picking up where they left off Tuesday, the conservatives said they thought a decision striking down the law’s controversial individual mandate to purchase health insurance means the whole statute should fall with it.

The court’s conservatives sounded as though they had determined for themselves that the 2,700-page measure must be declared unconstitutional.

“One way or another, Congress will have to revisit it in toto,” said Justice Antonin Scalia.

Agreeing, Justice Anthony Kennedy said it would be an “extreme proposition” to allow the various insurance regulations to stand after the mandate was struck down.

Meanwhile, the court’s liberal justices argued for restraint. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said the court should do a “salvage job,” not undertake a “wrecking operation.” But she looked to be out-voted.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. said they shared the view of Scalia and Kennedy that the law should stand or fall in total. Along with Justice Clarence Thomas, they would have a majority to strike down the entire statute as unconstitutional.

Update II: Those in court making the case against Obamacare might want to include in their opposing argument the words of… Barack Obama, who argued against health care mandates when he was running against Hillary Clinton:

Update III: Nancy Pelosi seems oddly prepared for a SCOTUS loss, doesn’t she?

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D) said Wednesday that Democrats will accept the Supreme Court’s ruling on her party’s healthcare law — whatever it is.

The California liberal –- a champion of the bill who was crucial to its passage -– said Democrats “were careful to honor the Constitution” in drafting the bill, but would respect the high-court’s verdict, however it falls.

“Democrats in the Congress have long-believed in judicial review,” Pelosi said during a press briefing in the Capitol. “We respect the third branch of government and the role that they play under our Constitution, and that is a role to have the opportunity to review laws passed by Congress.

“This is part of our constitutional process, and we respect it,” she added.

The mandate argument seems to be going against the Democrats, on the surface anyway. Pelosi would get more heated up about it, but she’s been keeping cool by standing in front of all the sighs of relief from swing district Dems up for re-election this year.

Update IV: A lift for the mandate?

Update V: “Cruel and unusual punishment.” Heh. That would explain why so many members of Congress didn’t read it.

**Written by Doug Powers

Twitter @ThePowersThatBe

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