Colorado’s Attorney General John Suthers was in Washington Monday sitting in on U.S. Supreme Court oral arguments about the constitutionality of the health-care reform act.
Twenty-six states including Colorado have challenged the constitutionality of the law, and six of the attorneys general, including Suthers, were able to sit in on Monday’s hearings.
In an interview with The Durango Herald, Suthers questioned the law’s constitutionality. “This is the first time in history where Congress has suggested they can punish someone who is not in economic activity,” he said.
Opponents of the American Affordable Health Care Act, derisively called Obamacare by Republicans, argue by not buying health care, they are not affecting economic activity.
By 2014, Americans who do not purchase health insurance would include the information on their tax returns and pay a penalty.
Suthers argued forcing individuals to purchase health insurance could lead to further requirements from Congress forcing people to open their wallets to other products or services viewed as necessary for the good of the country.
Suthers gave the example if Congress decided climate change or air quality were to become a national problem, the government could theoretically force you to buy an electric or hybrid car.
Suthers argued a viable alternative to forcing individuals to purchase health insurance would be for a tax credit or a tax deduction for health care.
“In this case, they’re abandoning the carrot and going to the stick. We think that is not constitutionally permissible and would have huge ramifications in the federal government,” he said.
Today’s hearing will focus on the individual mandate.
There has been a question if the individual mandate is struck down, whether the rest of the health-care law would be applicable. The Supreme Court will be hearing whether this is possible on Wednesday.
Kelcie Pegher is an intern for The Durango Herald and a student at American University in Washington, D.C. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.