Waiting for the Healthcare Ruling

What to look for in the Supreme Court’s decision on healthcare reform, which could come as soon as today.

The U.S. Supreme Court is poised to rule this week on President Barack Obama’s health-care overhaul, a law that would extend insurance to at least 30 million Americans and reshape an industry that makes up about 18 percent of the country’s economy.

The decision, coming little more than four months before the November election, will mark the first time the court has ruled on a president’s signature legislative accomplishment in the middle of his re-election bid.

What are the central legal issues?
The fate of the insurance requirement will turn on the court’s interpretation of three parts of the Constitution. The first is the commerce clause, which says Congress may “regulate commerce with foreign nations and among the several states.” The court has relied on the commerce clause to uphold laws such as the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

The court previously has extended the reach of the commerce power through the necessary-and-proper clause. That provision says Congress may “make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution” its enumerated powers.

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