My Regblog Analysis of the Individual Mandate Oral Argument

I recently published an analysis of the individual mandate oral argument for the University of Pennsylvania Regblog site. It goes through all nine justices and assesses their probable views on the mandate based on both their oral argument performance and their previous records on federalism issues:

This week’s oral arguments before the Supreme Court shed some new light on how the justices are likely to vote on the constitutionality of the individual health insurance mandate contained in the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Overall, the arguments went well for the anti-mandate plaintiffs. But the ultimate result is still difficult to predict. Four justices seem likely to vote to strike down the mandate, while four others are likely to vote to uphold it. As the Court’s key swing voter, Justice Anthony Kennedy could potentially go either way.

The conservative justices zeroed in on the biggest hole in the pro-mandate argument: the likelihood that the federal government’s various rationales for the health insurance mandate would also authorize virtually any other mandate. This extension of congressional authority would undermine the basic constitutional principle that federal power is limited. As Justice Antonin Scalia put it, the key question is this: “What is left? If the government can do this, what else can it not do?”

Readers might also be interested in this podcast co-blogger Orin Kerr and I did for the Federalist Society. As the podcast shows, Orin and I continue to disagree about the merits of the case, but there does seem to be a lot of common ground between us on the implications of the oral argument.