WASHINGTON — Sitting in the audience of the Supreme Court Monday for the start of historic arguments on whether a new national health care mandate is constitutional was Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, one of the state attorneys general who brought the lawsuit to end the program.
Mr. DeWine said the justices’ Monday discussion seemed like a victory for the forces opposed to the Affordable Care Act, judging from the questions and comments by the justices, but he said that was not unexpected.
The “real fireworks” take place Tuesday when the high court hears arguments on the individual mandate to buy health insurance established in the 2010 law that many people call Obamacare.
“The individual mandate argument is tomorrow and of the three days that’s probably the biggest day,” said Mr. DeWine after he emerged from the national courthouse building Monday morning.
“It would appear that their prime argument is on the commerce clause. The Supreme Court’s taking this deadly serious,” Mr. DeWine said.
Opponents of the individual mandate argue that Congress overreached its authority by requiring everyone to buy health insurance or be required to pay a penalty. The administration of President Barack Obama argues its power to mandate health insurance coverage is found in the section of the Constitution allowing Congress to regulate interstate commerce.
Mr. DeWine said he got a ticket to attend because he represents one of the plaintiffs in the case. He said he’ll be back at his job in Ohio on Tuesday.
The argument on Monday centered on whether the court has jurisdiction to hear the dispute. Mr. DeWine said most people felt the jurisdictional issue would be waived by the justices.
“I think we got by the first hurdle. That’s no surprise. We would have been surprised if they went the other way in their questioning, so check this box and move on,” Mr. DeWine said.
Actually, the justices have not made any decisions and won’t do so until late June.
Mr. DeWine, a Republican, was elected in 2010 in part on his promise to file suit on behalf of Ohio against the national health care law. His opponent at the time, incumbent Democrat Richard Cordray, said he thought the national health care law was constitutional and that getting Ohio involved in the lawsuit was a waste of state resources.
“It’s certainly an historic moment. There’s few cases in your lifetime that really mean as much as this case does from a constitutional point of view and from the relationship between the states and the federal government,” Mr. DeWine said.
He said the public will accept whatever the Supreme Court rules, but that if the law is upheld by the Supreme Court it will be an issue in the presidential election campaign.
All the Republican candidates for president have vowed to try to repeal the Affordable Care Act.