June 16, 2012
After Oral Arguments: The Supreme Court and the Affordable Care Act
Adam LiptakSupreme Court Correspondent, New York Times
Steven G. BradburyPartner, Dechert LLP; former acting Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legal Counsel, U.S. Department of Justice
Walter DellingerPartner, O'Melveny & Myers LLP; former acting U.S. Solicitor General
Litigation challenging the Affordable Care Act (ACA) finally reached the Supreme Court, where it was granted an unprecedented three days of oral argument. The cases raise fundamental questions about the meaning of Congress’s commerce and taxing powers, questions that reflect underlying debates about how the Constitution’s enduring principles should be interpreted to meet the needs of our complex, modern society. Arguments put forward by the law’s challengers reflect a vision of the Constitution that would cabin federal power and, their opponents contend, roll back decades, if not centuries, of settled law. Is the mechanism adopted for ensuring coverage by the ACA unprecedented or unexceptional? Is a ruling upholding the ACA consistent with traditional notions of congressional power? This debate addressed these and other questions through the lens of the health care lawsuits and offered reflections on the oral arguments in the ACA cases before the Supreme Court.