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Ken Turchi
IU Maurer School of Law

Last modified: Thursday, March 22, 2012

Affordable Care Act hearings raise many complex legal questions, says IU Maurer School of Law expert

March 22, 2012

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- During three days next week, March 26 to 28, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear long-awaited oral arguments concerning the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. According to an Indiana University Maurer School of Law expert, the proceedings could result in landmark rulings.

"The three cases before the court present at least four complex issues," professor Daniel O. Conkle said, "with many possible resolutions."

Daniel Conkle

Daniel O. Conkle

On March 26, the court hears arguments about the applicability of the Tax Anti-Injunction Act, an obscure 1867 law that, if applied, could preclude a court challenge to the individual-mandate portion of the health care law until after it takes effect in 2014.

"If the court applies the Anti-Injunction Act, the constitutional challenge would effectively be put on hold until 2015," Conkle said.

Arguments on March 27 and 28 center on the most frequently discussed aspects of the law: the constitutionality of the individual-mandate insurance requirement, which would force Americans either to buy health insurance or pay a penalty; and the expansion of Medicaid, which arguably forces states to spend more on health care for the poor. On March 28, the court will also hear arguments on severability: the impact on the rest of the law if the insurance requirements are held unconstitutional.

"These issues could be decided either way," Conkle said. "But if the court invalidates any of the law's provisions, it could be one of the most important federalism rulings from the court -- and one of the most dramatic confrontations between the court and the president -- since the 1930s."

Conkle is the Robert H. McKinney professor of law at the IU Maurer School of Law. An expert on constitutional law, he is available to comment on these cases and related issues. He can be reached at 812-855-4331 or