Washington and Lee law professor Timothy Jost has published “The Affordable Care Act and the Constitution: Beyond National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius” in The Health Care Case: The Supreme Court’s Decision and its Implications, published by Oxford University Press. The book features well-respected and ideologically diverse authors, some of whom participated in ACA litigation. It is among the first scholarly books to address the healthcare decision, perhaps the most significant decision of the Roberts Court to date, with major implications for constitutional law, the Roberts Court itself, and healthcare. Below is excerpt from Professor Jost’s chapter:
In National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius (NFIB), the Supreme Court concluded that Congress had acted within its constitutional authority in adopting the Affordable Care Act (ACA)’s individual responsibility provision (although as an exercise of its taxing power, not its commerce power) but that the ACA’s Medicaid expansion was unconstitutional as written. The chapters in this book address the NFIB decision, its history, meaning, and ramifications for the future.
But the ACA and its implementation raise many other constitutional issues not settled by the NFIB case; issues that have been and continue to be litigated in the federal courts. While these challenges have not attracted the attention the NFIB case garnered, and most have either failed or are likely to fail, they are significant politically. Like the NFIB litigation, most of these other cases have been driven by political considerations. They have given support and encouragement to the ACA’s enemies, offering state officials politically opposed to the ACA reasons to refuse to cooperate in its implementation and opponents in Congress ammunition to call for its repeal. On the other hand, the tables could have been turned had an administration come to power in Washington opposed to ACA implementation, with the ACA’s supporters then resorting to litigation to salvage health reform. This chapter considers a number of constitutional issues presented by the ACA that were not raised in NFIB. Some of these issues have been decided by the courts, while others continue to be litigated with no decision yet, and others could have been raised had President Barack Obama not been reelected in November 2012, and might still be relevant as ACA implementation moves forward.
The book is available now from the Oxford Press website.