Idaho and 25 other states challenge the country's health care law in the U.S. Supreme Court this week. The justices will hear challenges on three parts of the law but the biggest question facing the justices is whether the government can force people to purchase private health insurance.
Idaho Republican Congressman Mike Simpson says a ruling in favor of the individual mandate would greatly expand federal power. He questioned, “If they can do that, what can’t they do under the commerce clause?”
The law's supporters argue that sections of the U.S. Constitution give Congress authority over the economy and health care makes up around one fifth of the American economy.
Idaho’s attorney general is in Washington D.C. this week to watch the proceedings. He supports the suit along with the majority of Idaho's elected leaders. But in Washington State it’s a different story.
Washington's Republican attorney general is teaming up with conservatives to challenge the individual mandate in the health care law. Washington Democratic congressman Jim McDermott predicts a backlash for Attorney General Rob McKenna who is running for governor. “For the attorney general of the state of Washington to do it was really stupid politics because the state of Washington wants reform,” McDermott says.
McKenna’s participation in the case helps him shore up his conservative base. The state attorney general says he doesn’t want the whole law repealed, just the individual mandate.
Washington Republican Doc Hastings says McKenna’s position is more about the Constitution than politics. “I think that the coalition of 26 states have a very, very solid case.”
Congress will deal with other issues this week, but every lawmaker will have one eye across the street on the majestic pillars of the Court.