The U.S. Supreme Court began its scheduled three days of oral arguments on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act by reviewing a somewhat obscure 19th century tax law that essentially dictates that a taxpayer cannot sue over a tax until it goes into effect (Source: “Justices Seem Skeptical Heath Care Challenge Will Be Delayed,” ABC News, March 26, 2012).
If the justices were to rule that the Anti-Injunction Act applied to the penalties that are to be assessed to those with no coverage beginning in 2014, a ruling on the so-called individual mandate would be put on hold until 2015. However, most court observers, based on today’s questioning, seem to agree that it is unlikely that the court will put off a decision based on the Anti-Injunction Act.
Tomorrow, the Justices are scheduled to hear arguments pertaining to the individual mandate, also known as the minimum coverage provision, itself. On Wednesday the court will consider both the idea of severability (whether the law could stand if other provisions are struck down) and the constitionality of the Medicaid expansion provisions in the law.
The Health Policy Institute of Ohio has created a resource page that includes links to audio recordings and transcripts of the arguments, as well as news and analysis.