Sparks Fly As Court Debates Obama Mandate

March 27, 2012 by staff 

Sparks Fly As Court Debates Obama Mandate, With President Barack Obama’s landmark health care law in the balance, the divided Supreme Court on Tuesday questioned whether the measure properly regulates commerce or overreaches the Constitution and allows Washington to improperly force Americans to eat their vegetables.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, whose questioning is closely watched because he represents a potential swing vote, posed several skeptical queries to the Obama administration’s lawyer.

“Can you create commerce in order to regulate it?” he asked. “I understand we must presume laws are constitutional” until it is demonstrated otherwise, he told Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, representing the administration. But he said the administration has “a heavy burden of justification.”

Conservative Justice Antonin Scalia sharply questioned whether the Obama administration’s requirement that Americans have health insurance or pay a penalty-the so-called “individual mandate” at the heart of the law-might mean that “therefore you (the government) can make people buy broccoli.”

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