High Court Opens Landmark 'Obamacare' Hearing

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WASHINGTON -- Exactly two years after the Obama administration pushed its health care bill through Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court is about to weigh in on the controversial law.

On Monday, the high court begins an historic three days of hearings on the controversial law, which some call "Obamacare."

The main issue before the court is whether the individual mandate that all Americans purchase health care coverage or face penalties is constitutional.

Opponents say the federal government can't force all Americans to buy anything, including health care policies that on average may cost $15,000.

"If the government can do that, then they can compel us to do anything," Todd Gaziano, with the Heritage Foundation's Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, told CBN News.

Nina Owcharenko, with the Heritage Foundation's Center for Health Policy Studies, said the idea is "similar, to say 'We're going to require everyone to buy a car, and it needs to be an electric car.'"

"They can order us to go to the dentist twice a year because that would reduce everyone's preventative dental care," Gaziano said.

At a recent debate, pro-Obamacare lawyers pointed out that since Congress voted for the individual mandate, that should settle the matter.

"The unelected Supreme Court shouldn't be taking democratic decisions away from the people," Georgtown law professor Neal Katyal said.

Georgetown law professor Randy Barnett is arguing before the high court against the individual mandate.

He told fellow debaters and CBN News the mandate will force a raw deal on millions "by charging young and healthy people for insurance policies way in excess of the cost of those policies."

"So you're basically foisting a bad deal on young people to pay for other people. It's a redistribution of income," he said.

But Gaziano said what's vital is if the mandate's constitutional, then there's really no limit anymore to the federal government's power, a point on which he says conservatives and honest liberals both agree.

"The only disagreement among those groups is the liberal scholars say 'This would be a great thing. The federal government would be supreme, could issue any law it wanted,'" Gaziano said.

Conservative scholars on the other hand "would say 'that would end the Constitution as we know it, and that would be very bad,'" he explained. 

Meanwhile, a new survey shows the majority of Americans oppose at least part of the health care law.

The ABC News/Washington Post poll shows 67 percent believe the Supreme Court should either throw out the entire law or at least the individual mandate. Fifty-two percent of Americans oppose the law overall.

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Paul  Strand

Paul Strand

CBN News Washington Sr. Correspondent

As senior correspondent in CBN's Washington, D.C., bureau, Paul Strand has covered a variety of political and social issues, with an emphasis on defense, justice, and Congress.  Follow Paul on Twitter @PaulStrandCBN and "like" him at Facebook.com/PaulStrandCBN.