It’s been decades since the Court has allotted anything close to the six hours over three days that will be devoted next week to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). And the 136 amicus briefs filed with the Court—each costing thousands of dollars to prepare and file—easily shatters the previous record.
“I think most Americans rightly perceive that a lot is at stake here,” said Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute. The Institute filed a separate lawsuit challenging the health care law that was blocked by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. “Not only are we talking about the future of health care in America, but in an even larger sense this case will have a major impact on the future authority of Congress and the President to take over other aspects of the private sector.”
Among conservatives and libertarians, a primary concern has been the portion of the PPACA requiring all citizens to buy health insurance. The Court will also consider arguments on behalf of a majority of the states—another first—that the federal government cannot force them to expand their Medicaid rolls. And if the Court deems one or both of those key aspects of the law unconstitutional, it must decide whether the rest of the PPACA—which encompasses thousands of additional rules and regulations—can survive independently. Those additional rules range from coverage of pre-existing conditions to the explosive contraceptive mandate that has outraged religious liberty advocates.
PJI attorneys will be closely watching next week’s arguments for clues to the Court’s leanings. A decision is expected by the end of the Court’s annual term in late June.