The U.S. Supreme Court appeared poised Wednesday to strike down all or part of President Obama’s highly controversial healthcare reform law, as questions posed to government lawyers by the court’s conservative justices seemed to indicate they were at least leaning towards rejecting the individual mandate provision, the law’s most important requirement.
The Los Angeles Times reported that the court’s conservative justices appeared to conclude that the 2,700-page law must be declared unconstitutional.
“One way or another, Congress will have to revisit it in toto,” said Justice Antonin Scalia.
In agreeing with his colleague, Justice Anthony Kennedy said it would be an “extreme proposition” to allow the various insurance regulations to stand after the mandate was struck down, the paper said.
Liberal justices on the court, meanwhile, argued for restraint, opting to “salvage” the law rather than scrap it entirely. Led by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, they said the court should not conduct a “wrecking operation” on the law.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. said they agreed with Kennedy and Scalia that the law should stand or fall in total. If Justice Clarence Thomas were to agree, the paper said, that would mean the majority would likely vote to strike down the entire law as unconstitutional.
Edwin Kneedler, an administration lawyer, urged restraint, pointing out that because of the law, about 2.6 million people under the age of 26 are currently on their parents’ insurance. Striking down the entire law would mean “2.5 million of them would be thrown off the insurance rolls.”
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