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Rick Grimaldi: Politics and The Law 101

(The New Jersey Supreme Court building.  File photo)

(The New Jersey Supreme Court building. File photo)

3/27/12 – by Rick Grimaldi -

And so we are finally there. The Supreme Court is hearing arguments in a case that will have the most important political impact since Bush v Gore. I am, of course, referring to the challenge to The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act or Obama Care. More specifically that provision of the 2010 health care reform act that mandates the purchase of health care insurance by all Americans.

Say what you will about the health care system in this country, and there is much we can debate. This comes down to a simple argument. Did the President overstep his Constitutional limits by including the mandate provision in the law? If the Court believes that to be true it will deal a severe blow to the President’s re-election hopes. This was, after all, his signature legislation. If the law withstands the challenge the President will use this success as hammer against Mitt Romney in the general election and Romney, the author of his own questionable piece of health care legislation, will look ineffectual trying to debate the President.

In the first day of argument the Court seemed preoccupied with the argument regarding whether requirement that Americans buy health insurance or face a penalty is in reality a tax and consequently whether the challenge by 26 states is premature. Still to come Whether the mandate violates the Commerce Clause; and, whether the court can separate certain provisions from the law and decide that they are unconstitutional and still preserve the balance of the act.

To be sure the stakes are high. The President is a proponent of big government and that people should rely on government programs that protect them from misfortune. Of course the countervailing argument is that government programs result in higher taxes; a nanny state; and, an moribund free market. Ultimately at issue is the very  power of big government and whether that power should be limited in favor of the private sector. And isn’t that really the decision facing us all in 2012.

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