The Big Story Blog

Constitutional showdown begins on Obama health plan

Posted at 8:48 AM on March 26, 2012 by Paul Tosto
Filed under: Health

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BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

Its real name is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act but it's detractors call it Obamacare. Today the U.S. Supreme Court begins oral arguments, the first step to decide if the law is constitutional.

Here's a quick look at what National Public Radio sees happening this week:

At the U.S. Supreme Court, people have been lining up for days, waiting to hear this week's historic oral arguments on President Obama's health care law. The arguments will last for six hours over a three-day period, the longest argument in more than 40 years.

The court has boiled the arguments down into four questions. The first and threshold question is Monday, when the justices must decide whether an 1867 law called the Tax Anti-Injunction Act prevents the court from even considering this bill right now.

The theory of the law is that the U.S. could not have an effective tax system if every time somebody thought a tax provision was unconstitutional, he could just refuse to pay until a court makes a ruling. Thus, the Anti-Injunction Act requires people to pay the tax and then challenge it.

We'll be adding stories and insight during the day.


About Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto writes the Big Story Blog for MPR News. He joined the newsroom in 2008 after more than 20 years reporting on education, politics and the economy for news wires and newspapers across the country.