A Reporter’s Guide to the Supreme Court Arguments on Health Reform

The constitutional challenges to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act finally come to a head the week of March 26.

Thus far, there is no consensus on how the justices will rule. Will they strike down the individual mandate and leave the rest of the law intact? Will they alter or strike the Medicaid expansions in the law? Will they decide that no one will have standing to challenge the law until someone has to pay a penalty in 2015 for not being insured? Will Obama Administration lawyers succeed in their efforts to win over Chief Justice John Roberts or Justices Antonin Scalia or Anthony Kennedy?

To address these questions and others, the Alliance for Health Reform and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation sponsored a March 15 briefing for reporters. This event helped attendees cover the arguments and their aftermath with greater depth and understanding. All panelists focused on tips, story ideas and angles that have perhaps been underreported or overlooked. The briefing also provided angles for after the court ruling comes down, expected in June.

Panelists were: Simon Lazarus of the National Senior Citizens Law Center, an articulate supporter of the law in its entirety; Bill McCullom Jr., now a partner at SNR Denton in Washington, DC, as attorney general of Florida filed a challenge to the act the day it was signed into law — a bipartisan suit joined by 25 other attorneys general; Lyle Denniston is the dean of Supreme Court reporters, having covered the high court for 52 years — he currently writes for SCOTUSblog. Ed Howard of the Alliance moderated.

Transcript

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