(Fox News) The Supreme Court hearing Tuesday on the controversial federal health care law will be one for the history books. After presumably clearing away a technicality which was the focus of the in-the-weeds opening day, the justices are getting down to the indisputable linchpin of the entire health law challenge and the matter that will most likely end up making legal history.
Sandwiched on this week’s Supreme Court docket of health care cases is Tuesday’s examination of the individual mandate. It’s the provision in the law requiring Americans to buy health insurance. And it could unravel President Obama’s biggest domestic policy achievement if it’s struck down.
The issue on Tuesday will present the justices the opportunity to determine how much power the federal government has in forcing Americans to purchase a product or enroll in a government program they might otherwise avoid. Washington lawmakers have never before used this power. Some say that’s because it’s never been this necessary; others contend it’s because the authority doesn’t exist.
The justices will be looking at three significant constitutional areas to determine whether the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is lawful: the Commerce Clause, the Necessary and Proper Clause and the federal government’s taxing power.
The most prominent of these is the Commerce Clause, which gives the government power to regulate commercial activity among the states.
Both sides have used the Court’s precedents on Commerce Clause cases to bolster their arguments. Over the years, the power has been broadly interpreted giving the feds greater authority to regulate local activities ranging from wheat production to marijuana use. But the Court has also in recent years found several narrow areas to check federal action.
In many ways, the conflict is one of perspective.
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