States say Supreme Court must strike healthcare mandate

The court will hear oral arguments over the healthcare mandate in March, setting the stage for a decision this summer — in the heat of the 2012 elections. The justices set aside three days for oral arguments, more than any other case in recent history.

Congress has the power to regulate economic activity, but the states say the mandate goes a step further and requires people to participate in commerce. Their brief dismisses the Justice Department’s argument that everyone is in the market for healthcare services, and the mandate simply regulates how those services are paid for.

“Every decision not to purchase a good or service has a substantial effect on the interstate market for that good or service once aggregated with the similar decisions of other individuals,” the states’ brief says. “A power to control every class of decisions that has a substantial effect on interstate commerce would be nothing less than a power to control nearly every decision that an individual makes.”