The Conflict of Visions in NFIB v. Sebelius

41 Pages Posted: 20 Jun 2014 Last revised: 14 Jan 2015

See all articles by Jonathan H. Adler

Jonathan H. Adler

Case Western Reserve University School of Law; PERC - Property and Environment Research Center

Date Written: October 1, 2014

Abstract

In 2010, few anticipated the fate of health care reform would rest with the Supreme Court. Yet National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius emerged as a watershed case that could remake the constitutional landscape. NFIB presented a conflict between two constitutional visions of federal power, and the role of the courts in policing such limits – an unconstrained vision, under which limits on federal power are enforced primarily through the political process, and a constrained vision, under which constitutional limits on federal power are enforced by the courts. The contrasting views of the constitutionality of the individual mandate and the Medicaid expansion did not reflect different applications of settled principles so much as allegiance to competing visions of federal power. This essay, prepared for Drake University Constitutional Law Center’s 2014 Symposium on “The U.S. Supreme Court’s Obamacare Decision and Its Significance for the 50th Anniversary of LBJ’s Great Society,” details this conflict, its resolution by the NFIB, and possible future implications.

Keywords: NFIB v. Sebelus, National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, Federalism, Medicaid, Obamacare, Great Society, commerce clause, individual mandate

JEL Classification: K19

Suggested Citation

Adler, Jonathan H., The Conflict of Visions in NFIB v. Sebelius (October 1, 2014). 62 Drake Law Review 101 (2014); Case Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2014-15. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2456738

Jonathan H. Adler (Contact Author)

Case Western Reserve University School of Law ( email )

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HOME PAGE: http://www.jhadler.net

PERC - Property and Environment Research Center

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