The court’s examination of the law received much coverage during three days of oral arguments in March. Some of the justices stated the government was pushing for excessive authority over Americans by requiring them to buy anything. Justices Antonin Gregory Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, John Roberts and Samuel Alito repeatedly criticized the requirement to buy health insurance as forcing people to enter a market, which according to the justices is a new and troubling use of federal power (see “Supreme Court Justices Question Excessive Authority of Health Care Mandate”)
Arguing the case for the Obama administration, Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. defended the law as a constitutional exercise of congressional power under the charter’s commerce clause to regulate interstate commerce. He said lawmakers were regulating health insurance to deal with the problem of millions of people who lack coverage and therefore shift costs to the insured when they cannot pay for their medical care.
The court rejected the commerce clause argument, but ruled that Congress nevertheless had the power to impose the mandate because it can be considered a tax, according to The Washington Post.