Two years after the president signed the Affordable Care Act, the justices of the Supreme Court are poised to weigh in with their opinions about the far-reaching act, with people across the country expectantly awaiting the outcome of the legal challenge. The court will consider over the course of three days several cases brought by 26 states and several private plaintiffs.
Along the way, legal scholars, political figures, health care leaders and ordinary citizens have probed the constitutionality of the law's controversial requirement that virtually all Americans must purchase minimal health insurance coverage starting in 2014 or pay a tax penalty. With oral arguments scheduled to begin on March 26 and the ultimate decision expected to come by the end of June, it's worth revisiting the central arguments involved.
Former Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal and libertarian legal scholar Randy Barnett, both Georgetown law professors, provided HuffPost with a refresher course about the challenge, from their respective opposing points of view. Katyal defended the Affordable Care Act and its individual mandate in three federal courts of appeals. Barnett was one of the intellectual architects of the constitutional challenge to the mandate and now serves on the legal team for the private plaintiffs before the Supreme Court.
In this first installment of a four-part video series, Katyal and Barnett set the stage by laying out what's at stake in the biggest test of the federal government's power in seven decades.
"It's a very rare thing for the Supreme Court of the United States to be asked to strike down any piece of federal legislation, let alone something as signally important as this health care reform bill is," Katyal said of the litigation.
For Barnett, the new law amounts to "a disaster for both American health care and the American form of government," which was designed to strike a balance between state and federal powers. His diagnosis is stark: The 2,400-page law "is going to put the government between us and our doctor, and that just basically means the government owns us."
Video produced by Sara Kenigsberg