By Alicia M. Cohn - 11/17/11 09:29 PM EST
GOP presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney has predicted the Supreme Court will rule President Obama's healthcare law is unconstitutional in a "clear-cut" case.
The prediction represented Romney's first comments on the High Court's decision to consider the healthcare law. The court is expected to weigh in next summer, just as the presidential election kicks into high gear.
Healthcare is seen as a vulnerability for Romney, who championed a healthcare law in Massachusetts often compared to Obama's legislation.
“My view is this is a pretty clear cut case, where the federal government has intruded on the rights of states,” Romney said in an interview with the FOX Business Network. “The commerce clause is being stretched beyond the breaking point, and you’ll see the court strike down this piece of legislation. And we will, instead, put in place a piece of legislation which returns responsibility for the care of health care for the poor to the states where it belongs.”
The Supreme Court will hear arguments on the constitutionality of the healthcare law in February or March, with a ruling likely in June.
Romney refused to apologize for the legislation he implemented as governor, saying people might want him to it call the Massachusetts healthcare bill a “mistake” but that it wouldn’t be honest.
“If it hurts me politically, it’s a consequence of the truth,” Romney said.
“I am sure there are many people who have calculated, and perhaps correctly, that the healthcare plan I put in place in Massachusetts is not good for me politically, and if I want to encourage my political future, I should say it was a mistake and walk away from it,” he said. “You have seen a lot of candidates look at their biggest vulnerability, call it a mistake, and ask for forgiveness. In my case that wouldn’t be honest. I believe we did the right thing for our state at the time.”
The Massachusetts healthcare bill contains an individual insurance mandate, similar to the one in the Affordable Care Act.
“[The legislation] is not working perfectly,” he continued. “I am not going to walk away from that. It’s right for states to come up with their own solutions. I doubt other people are going try and follow the one we put together. Maybe learn from our experience. Maybe come up with something better.”
He was quick to condemn what he called ObamaCare, emphasizing its differences from the Massachusetts bill, as he has in the past.
“The wrong course is to have the federal government, through ObamaCare, impose its will on the entire nation,” Romney said. “And on day one [as president], I will make sure that we repeal ObamaCare, and I’ll put in place a executive order directly to the Secretary of Health and Human Services to grant a waiver from ObamaCare to all 50 states.”
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), one of the most outspoken critics of the healthcare legislation, jumped to celebrate the decision. And Herman Cain called for Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan to recuse herself from the hearing following an email obtained by watchdog group Judicial Watch that seemed to indicate Kagan’s bias in favor of the law upon its passage in 2009.
Romney was cautious when asked about Kagan.
“I don’t know what her conflict might be. I’m sure there are different members of the bench that have differing views with regards to the law itself, as to its constitutionality. That’s a different matter,” Romney said. “I will take a look at her involvement. … If she or someone else has a financial interest or some other stake in the outcome of a case, they obviously have to recuse themself.”