As we await the Supreme Court’s decision on challenges to the Affordable Care Act, here’s some analysis from NPR.
All of Washington is breathlessly awaiting the Supreme Court’s imminent decision on the Obama health care overhaul. Rumors circulate almost daily that the decision is ready for release. As usual, those rumors are perpetrated by people who know nothing, but the decision is expected by the end of this month.
The near hysteria is partially about politics: Congressional Republicans hate the bill, and some see President Obama’s chance at a second term hinged to the fate of the law. But constitutional scholars know there is much more at stake here than an individual election. Just how much is illustrated by the legal history of the Commerce Clause of the Constitution.
It gives Congress the power to “regulate commerce … among the several States,” and it authorizes Congress to “make all laws which shall be necessary and proper” for achieving that goal. The Founding Fathers’ purpose was to put an end to the interstate rivalries that balkanized the country after the American Revolution. But the words of the Commerce Clause are pretty general, and it is the Supreme Court that for more than 200 years has interpreted what they mean.