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News Posted on April 5, 2012

Associate Dean Amar Comments for Media on U.S. Supreme Court Health Care Case

Vikram Amar, Associate Dean and Professor of Law at UC Davis School of Law, commented on the U.S. Supreme Court arguments on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, widely referred to as Obamacare, for media including KPCC radio's Patt Morrison program, KQED radio's Forum, and Capital Public Radio's Insight

As a guest on Insight, Amar outlined the basic provisions of the Act.  At the conclusion of the three days of oral arguments, Amar summarized the hearings for KQED's Forum, suggesting that at least four of the Supreme Court justices "seemed to have no quarrel" with the law, while Justices Alito and Thomas seemed likely to vote to overturn it.  Justice Scalia seemed "somewhat hostile" during the oral arguments, while Justices Kennedy's and Roberts' positions were not clear.  

"Some of the justices seemed to think that just because the law was new and different that therefore it's constitutionally suspect, and I think that's not true," said Amar.  "I think the health care crisis we have is new so the reactions to it are going to be new, and novelty is not the same as unconstitutionality."

Amar also addressed the argument that the Act's requirement that individuals purchase health insurance represents a "slippery slope" that could lead to unbridled government control over individual liberties if upheld.  "The reality is that even under current doctrines there are slippery slope problems that we've found a way to deal with," said Amar, adding that "there are other constraints" within the judicial and political systems to restrain federal government power.

Vikram Amar, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and Professor of Law with the UC Davis School of Law, is a national authority in the fields of constitutional law, civil procedure, criminal procedure, and remedies. His biweekly column for, a leading provider of online legal information, centers on his expertise in constitutional law.

Patt Morrison