Legal Intern, Manhattan Institute's Center for Legal Policy
After the oral arguments in the Obamacare case this past April, we invited Michael Rosman, general counsel of the Center for Individual Rights, and Nadine Strossen, professor of law at New York Law School and former President of the ACLU, to participate in podcasts to gauge their reactions. After yesterday's decision by the Court, we invited them both back again for podcasts to analyze the outcome.
Despite upholding Obamacare, Strossen emphasized the significant ways in which the Court cut back on federal power:
[The case can be described as] winning the battle but losing the war for expanded federal power... Because the holding on the taxing clause was so extremely narrow it comes extremely close to saying - as the Court did in Bush v. Gore - that this holding applies only to this particular statute. It is written in a way that has very, very little, if any, precedential effect. In contrast, the Court cut back on the scope of three power-granting clauses in the Constitution... While the immediate impact is to uphold this particular exercise of federal power, the long-range impact may well be a cutback on significant federal power.Michael Rosman commented on the Court placing limits on the federal government's Spending Clause power:
There is some limit, but what it is gosh only knows... If coercion is the idea that states don't really have a choice, hasn't Medicaid sort of always been coercive in that regard? Hasn't, for example, Title VI and any other statute in which the receipt of federal funds includes college loans, always been to a substantial degree coercive? As witnessed by the fact that there is no state, I believe, that doesn't participate in those statutes. So yeah, there is a limit; where exactly we're going to draw the line is not entirely clear.
Strossen and Rosman also both participated in our Featured Discussion on the Obamacare decision, which includes analysis from various prominent constitutional commentators.