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Antonin Scalia Compares Reading Affordable Care Act To Cruel And Unusual Punishment

The Huffington Post  |  By Posted: 03/28/2012 5:06 pm

Scalia

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia joked that reading the entirety of the Affordable Care Act is akin to cruel and unusual punishment.

"What happened to the Eighth Amendment? You really want us to go through these 2,700 pages? And do you really expect the Court to do that? Or do you expect us to -- to give this function to our law clerks? Is this not totally unrealistic? That we are going to go through this enormous bill item by item and decide each one?" Scalia asked Deputy Solicitor General Edwin Kneedler during Wednesday's health care reform hearings.

The Eighth Amendment prohibits the use of "cruel and unusual punishment" and is widely cited as proof that torture is unconstitutional.

Scalia's quip came in the middle of a discussion about whether other parts of the health care law could survive if individual mandate were struck down.

As Politico points out, Republicans once used the bill's length as an argument against it.

Scalia is known for his sense of humor. A 2005 study found that he elicited more laughter than any other Supreme Court justice at the time.

He also famously said that torture isn't necessarily unconstitutional.

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