Attorney General Jon Bruning doesn’t expect the Supreme Court to allow an 1867 law to stop it from reviewing federal health care reform.
The court began three days of oral arguments on the law this morning in Washington, D.C. Today’s session focused on that 1867 law, the Anti-Injunction Act, which prohibits legal review of a tax until it is enacted. Bruning considers this round of oral arguments simply a warm-up.
“You certainly saw that the justices were generally interested in getting past today’s subject matter, the Anti-Injunction Act, and getting to the main event,” Bruning tells reporters during a conference call from Washington.
Bruning, and many others, consider the main event to come before the Supreme Court tomorrow. That is when the court considers whether Congress exceeded its constitutional authority by mandating that nearly every American buy health insurance. The Obama Administration says the Commerce Clause gives Congress the authority. Nebraska is one of the 26 states that contend Congress exceeded its authority and that the Commerce Clause doesn’t apply.
But, today, the high court heard arguments on whether it should even be considering the case, yet. The Anti-Injunction Act of 1867 prohibits the courts from considering the viability of a tax before it is levied. A federal appeals court equated the penalties with a tax and ruled the courts could not consider the case until a penalty is levied in 2015, even though the law went into effect in 2010.
The mandate is seen as crucial to the law itself. Bruning says the sates challenging the law argue the law cannot survive without the mandate.
“That Congress didn’t include a severability provision in the final law when they passed it. They thought about it and they didn’t put one in there,” Bruning says. “And, so, you have to assume when Congress acts, that it acts with purpose and Congress didn’t put a severability provision in this law.”
Bruning says it’s evident the justices are intensely focused on the case. So are many Americans. Outside of the Supreme Court building, supporters and opponents of the health-care law marched, many carrying various signs. Bruning calls the atmosphere surrounding the case fascinating.
Both the states, private organizations and individuals challenging the Affordable Care Act and the Obama Administration have stated they want the court to act now.
AUDIO: Attorney General Jon Bruning assesses the first day of oral arguments in front of Supreme Court [6:45]
Click here for link to Supreme Court oral arguments in health care case.
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