affectionately (not really) known as obamacare, the supreme court agreed earlier this week to decide on the constitutionality of the the "patient protection and affordable care act," with oral arguments likely to be scheduled in a few months. this gives us plenty of time to analyze and review some of the various legal, moral and political positions surrounding this controversial legislation.
we will get into some of the more nuanced aspects of this case as we get closer to oral arguments (which are expected to last about five hours - comparatively i have oral arguments on an appeal in december and it's expected to last ten minutes), but the major issue to be decided by the court is whether the "individual mandate," which requires that every american purchase health care by 2014 or face penalties, exceeds the authority of the federal government and therefore is unconstitutional.
like with many other national reformative legislation, the authority of the united states congress to enact health care reform comes from the "commerce clause" (united states constitution, article I, section 8, clause 3). the commerce clause, at its core, allows the congress to regulate commerce among the different states. the caveat is, of course, that most everything now affects or is affected by interstate commerce so the commerce clause has given congress very broad powers. this same clause allowed congress to pass the civil rights acts and fdr's new deal, both far reaching in their legal and social effects.
this begins a series of posts designed to give an overview of the legality of the new health care reform laws as we approach a historic supreme court battle in 2012 that will greatly shape the narrative of the 2012 presidential election.