After three days of oral arguments, the Supreme Court’s conservative justices generally seemed skeptical of the constitutionality of the federal health reform law while liberal justices often came to the law’s defense.

Supreme Court Seems Likely To Rule on Law This Year

On the first day of oral arguments in the Supreme Court case against the federal health reform law, justices seemed supportive of the idea that they can rule on the law now, rather than defer judgment until after its penalties take effect. The arguments focused on whether the tax anti-injunction act — which states that cases cannot be brought until a plaintiff has paid a tax — prevents the court from ruling until 2015.

Both opponents of the law and the White House have argued that the law does not apply and have urged the Supreme Court to hear the case now rather than wait.

Individual Mandate

Day two featured U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli responding to skeptical questions from the court’s conservative justices. The conservative justices appeared doubtful of Congress’ power to mandate that U.S. residents purchase health coverage. The court’s liberal justices weighed in numerous times to further the government’s argument that it has the power to compel citizens to purchase coverage.


The third day featured the justices hearing arguments focused on the issue of severability – whether the rest of the law can stand if the individual mandate is struck down.

At least five justices “seemed open” to allowing the remainder of the overhaul to stand even if the individual mandate is deemed unconstitutional. Some observers noted that the justices’ openness to allowing other provisions to stand could indicate that they have accepted that the individual mandate will be struck down. Many observers said it seemed as if the justices were struggling with whether to attempt to salvage the remaining pieces of the overhaul or just toss the law out completely.

What’s Next

The justices will release their decision in June. In the meantime you can join each of the members of the AASM Board of Directors in supporting sleep medicine-friendly legislators in their Congressional elections by contributing to the AASM PAC. The AASM is a bi-partisan political action committee that seeks to open doors for expressing our viewpoints and the need for and value of sleep care services for our individual patients, sleep care research and sleep-related public health implications. If you would like to donate, please go to our webpage at: