Supreme Court to hear Affordable Care Act challenges

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In what’s expected to be a historic constitutional test over how much power the federal government has to require individual mandates for states, the Supreme Court of the United States will consider the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010.

The nation’s high court released its orders Monday following a private conference Nov. 10, indicating it would take questions from three of the five health care appeals that have been filed nationwide in the past 18 months. The justices granted certiorari in National Federation of Independent Business., et al. v. Kathleen Sebelius, No. 11-393; Department of Health and Human Services, et al. v. Florida, et al., No. 11-398; and Florida, et al. v. Department of Health and Human Services, et al., No. 11-400.

The appeals will likely be heard in March, with a decision expected by the end of the court's current term in June – just before the Republican and Democratic national conventions. No dates are set for arguments and the court has set aside  5 ½ hours to hear the parties’ arguments.

One of the main questions before the justices is the constitutionality of the individual insurance mandate, the foundation of the health care reform passed in 2010, and whether Congress exceeded its regulatory power on interstate commerce in requiring that coverage. That question comes from the HHS v. Florida case. Indiana and 25 other states joined Florida as parties in that case earlier this year.

A Florida federal court judge struck down the entire law as unconstitutional and the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed in part, finding that only the individual mandate portion of the law is unconstitutional. That decision was opposite of what the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals found in a separate challenge, and the 4th Circuit had previously determined it couldn’t rule on the constitutionality of the individual mandate until it went into effect in 2014. The SCOTUS declined to take those two cases.

The court will examine the issue of “severability” of the insurance mandate from the law’s other provisions, a question brought up in both the Florida v. Department of Health and Human Services and NFIB v. Sebelius cases. Those two cases are consolidated for 90 minutes of oral argument.

Parties are also directed to brief and argue whether the lawsuit initiated by the states involving the insurance mandate is barred by the Anti-Injunction Act. One hour is devoted to that issue relating only to state application, but not how private entities such as businesses might challenge the individual mandate.


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  1. This new language about a warning has not been discussed at previous meetings. It's not available online. Since it must be made public knowledge before the vote, does anyone know exactly what it says? Further, this proposal was held up for 5 weeks because members Carol and Lucy insisted that all terms used be defined. So now, definitions are unnecessary and have not been inserted? Beyond these requirements, what is the logic behind giving one free pass to discriminators? Is that how laws work - break it once and that's ok? Just don't do it again? Three members of Carmel's council have done just about everything they can think of to prohibit an anti-discrimination ordinance in Carmel, much to Brainard's consternation, I'm told. These three 'want to be so careful' that they have failed to do what at least 13 other communities, including Martinsville, have already done. It's not being careful. It's standing in the way of what 60% of Carmel residents want. It's hurting CArmel in thT businesses have refused to locate because the council has not gotten with the program. And now they want to give discriminatory one free shot to do so. Unacceptable. Once three members leave the council because they lost their races, the Carmel council will have unanimous approval of the ordinance as originally drafted, not with a one free shot to discriminate freebie. That happens in January 2016. Why give a freebie when all we have to do is wait 3 months and get an ordinance with teeth from Day 1? If nothing else, can you please get s copy from Carmel and post it so we can see what else has changed in the proposal?

  2. Here is an interesting 2012 law review article for any who wish to dive deeper into this subject matter: Excerpt: "Judicial interpretation of the ADA has extended public entity liability to licensing agencies in the licensure and certification of attorneys.49 State bar examiners have the authority to conduct fitness investigations for the purpose of determining whether an applicant is a direct threat to the public.50 A “direct threat” is defined as “a significant risk to the health or safety of others that cannot be eliminated by a modification of policies, practices or procedures, or by the provision of auxiliary aids or services as provided by § 35.139.”51 However, bar examiners may not utilize generalizations or stereotypes about the applicant’s disability in concluding that an applicant is a direct threat.52"

  3. We have been on the waiting list since 2009, i was notified almost 4 months ago that we were going to start receiving payments and we still have received nothing. Every time I call I'm told I just have to wait it's in the lawyers hands. Is everyone else still waiting?

  4. I hope you dont mind but to answer my question. What amendment does this case pretain to?

  5. Research by William J Federer Chief Justice John Marshall commented May 9, 1833, on the pamphlet The Relation of Christianity to Civil Government in the United States written by Rev. Jasper Adams, President of the College of Charleston, South Carolina (The Papers of John Marshall, ed. Charles Hobson, Chapel Hill: Univ. of North Carolina Press, 2006, p, 278): "Reverend Sir, I am much indebted to you for the copy of your valuable sermon on the relation of Christianity to civil government preached before the convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church in Charleston, on the 13th of February last. I have read it with great attention and advantage. The documents annexed to the sermon certainly go far in sustaining the proposition which it is your purpose to establish. One great object of the colonial charters was avowedly the propagation of the Christian faith. Means have been employed to accomplish this object, and those means have been used by government..." John Marshall continued: "No person, I believe, questions the importance of religion to the happiness of man even during his existence in this world. It has at all times employed his most serious meditation, and had a decided influence on his conduct. The American population is entirely Christian, and with us, Christianity and Religion are identified. It would be strange, indeed, if with such a people, our institutions did not presuppose Christianity, and did not often refer to it, and exhibit relations with it. Legislation on the subject is admitted to require great delicacy, because freedom of conscience and respect for our religion both claim our most serious regard. You have allowed their full influence to both. With very great respect, I am Sir, your Obedt., J. Marshall."