White House Shifts Strategy in Defense of Obamacare

Friday, 16 Mar 2012 02:50 PM

By Dan Weil

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The Obama administration has shifted the legal arguments it’s using to defend the 2010 healthcare law, as the March 26 start date for Supreme Court oral arguments over Obamacare approaches.

Some legal experts tell The Hill that the change could help make Justice Antonin Scalia, a presumed opponent of Obamacare, more amenable to the law’s requirement that individuals buy health insurance.

Until now, the Justice Department has defended that mandate as its own regulation of economic activity, but now it’s arguing that the mandate is an essential part of a broader regulatory regime, The Hill reports. That means the White House has moved the focus of its defense to the Necessary and Proper Clause of the Constitution, which empowers Congress to make laws that are necessary for carrying out its other powers, from the Commerce Clause, which grants the federal government the authority to regulate interstate commerce.

“The minimum coverage provision is ... necessary to achieve Congress’s concededly valid objective of reforming the interstate market in health insurance,” the Justice Department said in its first Supreme Court brief on the individual mandate’s legality, according to The Hill.

A ruling against the mandate would make it virtually impossible to put other elements of Obamacare into place.



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