Abbott: Health care arguments show administration's hypocrisy

Marilyn Tennissen Mar. 27, 2012, 7:43am

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott speaks to press outside the U.S. Supreme Court on March 27.

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott was among those who attended the first day of oral arguments on the federal health care challenge before the U.S. Supreme Court, and said he feels the proceedings will reveal the "hypocrisy" of the Obama administration.

Monday's arguments focused on the Anti-Injunction Act and whether the parties challenging the law can sue before the law's individual mandate – and the penalty imposed for not complying with the mandate – takes effect in 2014.

"The issue is whether or not this is or is not a tax. The truth of the matter is, this is imposed as a penalty, not a tax. The purpose of a tax is to raise revenue, and the purpose of the Obamacare penalty is not to raise revenue," Abbott stated in a press release.

"As Justice Alito pointed out today, the Department of Justice lawyers in court today were contending that this is not a tax, but he did note that they're going to be right back in court tomorrow contending that in fact this is a tax – once again pointing out the hypocrisy of the Obama Administration position."

Texas and 25 other states have challenged the constitutionality of Congress' authority to force individuals to buy health insurance. The states claim the Obama administration continues to spend excessively and impose unfunded mandates upon the states, including the federal health care reform bill that will cost Texas taxpayers more than $27 billion over 10 years for the Medicaid expansion starting in 2014, according to Abbott.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry said the day was "a landmark moment in the ongoing struggle against the Obama Administration's continued pattern of massive federal overreach and consolidation of power, as well as the resulting erosion of individual liberties." said Perry in a statement.

"I remain hopeful and confident that through the efforts of officials including Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, the Supreme Court will concur with the judgment of other federal courts and put an end to the unprecedented and dangerous overreach of Obamacare."

On Monday, the justices heard 90 minutes of argument on whether an 1867 law that requires individuals to pay a tax before they can challenge it applies to the health care law.

According to Tony Mauro's entry to the Blog of Legal Times, Covington & Burling partner Robert Long argued Monday that the provision of the law that requires people to pay a penalty if they don't buy insurance "has all the indicia of a tax."

But several justices pointed out that the health care law does not use the word "tax," suggesting that they don't believe the Anti-Injunction Act applies, Mauro wrote.

"Justices seemed more receptive to the argument by Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. that the penalty is not a tax, and that the justices can proceed to rule on the constitutionality of the health care law," he wrote.

Abbott said he was encouraged by the size of the crowd outside and inside the court.

"I have been here to the U.S. Supreme Court multiple times and I've never seen crowds like this," he said.

"The entire plaza around the Supreme Court is completely crowded with protestors against Obamacare and with supporters of Obamacare. This shows that this law is something that has gripped the entire nation. Most people here want to see Obamacare overturned."

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