Today marks the last day in which the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare” as it has been colloquially titled, will argued before the Supreme Court. The Act requires that , beginning in 2014, all individuals not covered by a private or government health insurance program to purchase a minimum health coverage plan or face a financial penalty. This “individual mandate” is not required by those who experience financial hardship or religious practices which forbid such a practice, and represents the most controversial piece of the Act. The bill itself hopes to expand the number of Americans covered by health insurance and expand the coverage of those who already possess a coverage program. Opponents, however, point to increased funding costs and constitutional ramifications as reasons to oppose to the Act.
Over the first half of this week, the Affordable Care Act has been argued before the Supreme Court, challenging primarily the constitutionality of the “individual mandate.” Wednesday morning’s arguments were focused mainly on the question of “severability,” namely, whether the entire Act would be null and void if the individual mandate is found unconstitutional, or whether other aspects of the bill could be maintained. It remains highly uncertain as to which way the court will go in its ruling, which is likely to be delivered sometime in June, though many legal observers have “concluded the Obama administration’s solicitor general, Donald Verrilli Jr., did little to boost the individual mandate’s constitutionality in two hours of intense arguments Tuesday.” Despite the White House’s subsequent statement affirming their support of Mr. Verilli, on such a divided bench this could play a major factor. Currently Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Brayer are expected to uphold the mandate. The remaining Justices Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, Samuel Alito and Chief Justice John Roberts are less certain in terms of predictability, with Justice Kennedy seen as the most likely of these five conservative justices to swing his vote the other way.