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Experts split on mandate’s viability


The following appeared in the March 24, 2012, edition of the Denton Record-Chronicle. Law Professor Lackland Bloom provided expertise for this story.

April 9, 2012

By Lowell Brown

As the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to hear oral arguments this week on challenges to the federal health care reform law, some constitutional experts differ on whether the individual mandate should survive the review.

Legal scholars interviewed by the Denton Record-Chronicle came to opposite conclusions, reflecting how polarizing the issue continues to be. More than half of likely U.S. voters support repealing the law, compared with 39 percent who oppose repeal, according to a Rasmussen Reports poll released last week.

Other polls have found the public similarly divided over the 2010 law, which is considered President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement and strongly opposed by the Republicans seeking his job in November.

The legal challenge was brought by 26 states including Texas, the National Federation of Independent Business and individuals who argue the law’s mandate to purchase insurance is unconstitutional. The Supreme Court agreed to hear the case after lower courts issued conflicting opinions.

Congress has a well-established power to regulate commerce, but critics say that power does not include forcing people to buy something.

“It’s a hard case,” said Lackland Bloom Jr., a professor and constitutional law specialist at Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law. “I think that both sides have some pretty darn good legal arguments … but personally I think Congress was overreaching here.”...