If his quips during the oral arguments over the Constitutionality of President Barack Obama’s healthcare plan are any indicator, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia likely thinks the whole thing is a ridiculous mess.
In discussions about how the Court could decide which portions of the 2,700-page healthcare document couldn’t stand up to the test of Constitutionality, Scalia told Obama lawyer Edwin Kneedler that making the Justices read the entire document would violate their 8th Amendment rights.
Scalia said, “Mr. Kneedler, what happened to the Eighth Amendment? You really want us to go through these 2,700 pages? And do you really expect the Court to do that? Or do you expect us to — to give this function to our law clerks? Is this not totally unrealistic? That we are going to go through this enormous bill item by item and decide each one?”
Scalia also took on the Administration’s counsel on Tuesday, taking a moment to lecture Obama lawyer Donald Verrilli Jr. about the savvy of American consumers.
The transcript of the exchange:
SCALIA: These people are not stupid. They’re going to buy insurance later. They’re young and need the money now.
VERRILLI: But that’s –
SCALIA: When they think they have a substantial risk of incurring high medical bills, they’ll buy insurance, like the rest of us.
VERRILLI: But that’s — that’s –
SCALIA: — I don’t know why you think that they’re never going to buy it.
VERRILLI: That’s the problem, Justice Scalia. That’s — and that’s exactly the experience that the States had that made the imposition of guaranteed issue and community rating not only be ineffectual but be highly counterproductive. Rates, for example, in New Jersey doubled or tripled, went from 180,000 people covered in this market down to 80,000 people covered in this market. In Kentucky, virtually every insurer left the market.
And the reason for that is because when people have that guarantee of — that they can get insurance, they’re going to make that calculation that they won’t get it until they’re sick and they need it. And so, the pool of people in the insurance market gets smaller and smaller. The rates you have to charge to cover them get higher and higher. It helps fewer and fewer — insurance covers fewer and fewer people until the system ends.
This is not a situation in which you’re conscripting — you’re forcing insurance companies to cover very large numbers of unhealthy people —
SCALIA: You could solve that problem by simply not requiring the insurance company to sell it to somebody who has a — a condition that is going to require medical treatment, or at least not – not require them to sell it to him at a rate that he sells it to healthy people. But you don’t want to do that.
According to SCOTUSblog, the Court will render a decision regarding Obamacare by June 28.
Below is the audio for the Supreme Court’s Obamacare hearings from this week: