High Court Dissects Obamacare's Individual Mandate

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THE SUPREME COURT -- The U.S. Supreme Court battle over President Obama's controversial health care law has drawn intense interest across the country, with Americans saying they were closely watching the case.

Supreme Court justices spent Tuesday focusing on the individual mandate, requiring Americans to purchase health care coverage or be penalized.

The court's conservatives ripped into it, with Chief Justice John Roberts asking if the government can force Americans to buy health insurance, why not cell phones to be ready for emergencies?

However, the court's liberal justices supported the law. Defenders insisted health care is different from purchasing a cell phone because everyone inevitably faces health issues.

Everybody's in the health care market, they reasoned, and government has the right to regulate markets.
    
Justice Antonin Scalia wondered if that meant government could tell people what to eat, since everyone's in the food market.
 
"Could you define the market? Everybody has to buy food sooner or later, so you define the market as food. Therefore, everybody is in the market; therefore, you can make people buy broccoli," Scalia challenged.

"No, that's quite different. That's quite different," Solicitor-General Don Verrilli replied.

Jordan Sekulow, executive director of the American Center for Law and Justice, talked more about the case on the CBN News Channel's Morning News, March 28.

 

The likely swing vote, Justice Anthony Kennedy, asked if government could force this, "Are there any limits?"

He added that the mandate "is a step beyond what our cases allow."
 
Polls have frequently shown the public is opposed to the health care law. A Rasmussen survey finds 56 percent want the law repealed, compared to 41 percent who say 'don't repeal it.'
 
In addition, a Gallup poll shows 72 percent believe the individual mandate is unconstitutional, while just 20 percent say it's constitutional.

Meanwhile, outside the Supreme Court plaza continues to be the new public square, filled with "Obamacare" opponents.

"Obamacare is the greatest expansion of federal power in the history of the country," Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., charged.

But supporters of the law say it's vital for those who don't have health insurance.

"We used to have great insurance, but my husband was laid off," cancer survivor Spike Dolomite Ward said. "He had to choose between health insurance and the mortgage. And we didn't want to be homeless."

Abortion coverage is one of the key issues in the health care law, with protestors demonstrating both for and against the provision.

Pro-choice advocates like Arielle Karp, from Alexandria, Va., like the abortion support "Obamacare" provides.

"You should have that availability without having to jump through any hoops or tell anybody about it," she said. 

But many pro-lifers are worried "Obamacare" will force them to finance abortion, birth control, and abortion-inducing drugs.

"We know this violates our human rights, our right to practice our freedom, our freedom of faith, and it would violate the rights of countless more unborn children," Lila Rose, founder and president of the pro-life group Live Action, said. 
    
Some are furious over a mandate that anyone in a health plan covering abortion has to help pay for them.
 
"How can we stop that? My money is going to go to kill a baby!" Eva Mazzella, from Titusville, N.J., said.

"I have an adopted grandson. And God bless the mom that did not abort that child," she said.

Currently, 26 states are suing over the law and their attorneys general are in Washington to battle for its death.

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Jennifer Wishon

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Jennifer Wishon is the White House correspondent for CBN News based in the network’s Washington, D.C. Bureau.  Before taking over the White House beat, Jennifer covered Capitol Hill and other national news, from the economy to the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Follow Jennifer on Twitter @JenniferWishon and "like" her at Facebook.com/JennWishon.