The U.S. Supreme Court wrapped up three days of arguments on the Obama health law on Wednesday with no clear road map on what the justices might do with the controversial law.
The first arguments on Wednesday centered on what the justices should do if the individual mandate was to be declared unconstitutional – should the entire law be thrown out or should the Court preserve certain provisions?
“My approach would say if you take the heart out of the statute, the statute’s gone,” said Justice Antonin Scalia, arguing that the Congress and not the courts should determine what goes in a health reform law.
“Is this not totally unrealistic that we’re going to go through this enormous bill item by item?” Scalia asked.
But more liberal justices argued again that the law should be preserved in some form.
“It’s a choice between a wrecking operation,” said Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, “or a salvage job.”
She then took a veiled swipe at opponents of the law by noting that “the more conservative approach would be salvage rather than throwing out everything.”
Part of the debate on Wednesday morning was on the role of the Judiciary in this – and should the Justices pick and choose what provisions stay and which ones are thrown out.
Justice Anthony Kennedy argued it might be a “more extreme exercise of judicial power” to leave some of the law than get rid of the whole thing.
But Justice Elena Kagan countered that some of the law might be better than none.
“Does Congress want half a loaf?” Kagan asked. “Is half a loaf better than no loaf?”
Now after an active three days of arguments, the Supreme Court may take the next three months to make a final ruling. Look for that at the end of June.