Supreme Court Begins Deliberation On Obama Health Care Case
CNN says, It boils down to whether the health care law's key provision is a "tax" that could prevent the court from considering the broader constitutional questions.
The key provision involved is the "individual mandate" requiring most Americans to purchase some form of health insurance or face a substantial tax penalty.
An obscure federal law known as the Anti-Injunction Act, which dates back to 1867, bars claimants from asking for a refund on a tax until that tax has been collected and paid.
The Supreme Court appointed an attorney, Robert Long, to make the argument that the tax law prevents them from hearing the case on President Obama's health care law, because neither the administration nor the private plaintiffs in the case made that claim.
USA Today said, Long told the justices that the Anti-Injunction Act "imposes a pay first, litigate later" rule that applies to "essentially every penalty" in the federal tax code. He said the penalty for failing to buy insurance functions as a tax, and that the Anti-Injunction Act leaves federal courts without jurisdiction to hear challenges to a tax before someone pays it. Were the justices to agree, courts would be unable to hear challenges to the law until 2015, which is the soonest anyone would be forced to pay.
The court was skeptical of this argument, and didn't begin to discuss the constitutionality of the health care law.
Spectators lined up since Friday to witness the deliberations.