Individual Mandate: 2 Lawyers Debate Constitutionality

Abbe R. Gluck, JD; Daniel Woodring, JD


May 02, 2012

In This Article


The US Supreme Court held an unprecedented 3 days of arguments (it has been decades since it last granted that much time to a specific case), March 26-28, on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). A ruling is expected by the end of June.

Before the Court were 4 questions:

  • Does the Court have jurisdiction to decide the claims before it?

  • Does the individual coverage mandate unconstitutionally exceed Congress' authority?

  • To what extent is the mandate severable from other provisions in the Act?

  • Is the expansion of the Medicaid program in the Act unconstitutionally coercive?

After oral arguments, it seemed that the Court did have jurisdiction to weigh the case, answering the first question before it. This article is the first in a 3-part series in which 2 constitutional lawyers will debate the 3 remaining questions before the Supreme Court.

This article considers the constitutionality of the individual mandate. Future columns will address whether the mandate is severable from the rest of the ACA, and whether the expansion of Medicaid is unconstitutionally coercive.


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