Democratic Warnings That Confirming Amy Coney Barrett Would Doom Obamacare Are Implausible and Confused
During Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearing today, several Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee worried that the 7th Circuit judge would vote to overturn the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Sens. Chris Coons (D–Del.), Richard Blumenthal (D–Ct.), Mazie Hirono (D–Hawaii), Cory Booker (D–N.J.), and Kamala Harris (D–Calif.) all warned that such a decision would hurt Americans who depend on the law’s protections for patients with pre-existing conditions and its restrictions on coverage caps. They all described constituents who benefit from those provisions.
That argument is misleading for at least three reasons. First, while the predicament of patients like those described by Coons et al. figures prominently in the public policy debate about Obamacare, it is irrelevant to the legal question of whether the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is constitutional. Second, there is little reason to think that Barrett would in fact vote to overturn the law. Third, even if she did, there does not seem to be a majority on the Court in favor of that outcome.
As a Notre Dame law professor, Barrett criticized Chief Justice John Roberts’ controlling opinion in the 2012 case National Federal of Independent Business v. Sibelius, which implausibly construed the ACA’s individual health insurance mandate as a tax. Roberts did not want to uphold the requirement that every American buy government-approved medical coverage as an exercise of the congressional power to regulate interstate commerce because that position would extend the already stretched Commerce Clause into new territory. But he also did not want to overturn the mandate. So instead he treated it as an exercise of the tax power, notwithstanding all of the indications that it was meant to be a “penalty” for failing to ma
Article from Latest – Reason.com