About a dozen states are ready to challenge the constitutionality of health-care reform “the moment Obama signs the bill,” according to Texas’s attorney general. Their target is the legislation’s health-insurance mandate, which requires everyone to buy health insurance. This is, the consortium of attorneys general argue, an unconstitutional impingement of personal freedom, and “a qualitatively unprecedented expansion of federal authority at the expense of the states.” But some constitutional scholars don’t think the case has a good shot.
Because the mandate was structured as a tax, it falls well within the powers of Congress, according to Yale professor Jack Balkin. “People have to pay taxes all the time,” he tells the Times. “This is not new.” Erwin Chemerinsky of the University of California Irvine School of Law adds, “If the court stays true to its Commerce Clause jurisprudence of the last 15 years, I think this will be upheld.” Hopefully there’s nobody on the Supreme Court with a score to settle against President Obama for any reason!