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DENVER (CBS4) – The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing arguments on the constitutionality of the health care reform law championed by President Obama.
It’s a closely watched legal battle that could have a big impact on the health care system and the 2012 presidential campaign. Colorado is one of 26 states trying to overturn the health care reform.
Monday was the first day of the much-anticipated case. Even Colorado Attorney General John Suthers is in Washington to observe a debate that experts say will have groundbreaking consequences.
“It’s an extraordinarily exciting moment. Finally we will have the answer to the question as to whether or not the policy will stand and what we’ll do with it in the future,” University of Denver Assistant Professor Peter Hanson said.
The day began with a debate over whether the justices should even rule on health care now, two years before the law takes full effect. But Tuesday the main course begins — is it constitutional for Congress to require Americans to buy health insurance? That depends on how much power the court decides Congress has.
“The question is — is requiring Americans to buy health insurance a way of regulating interstate commerce?” Hanson said.
That’s what has Suthers in the nation’s capitol.
“This is a very, very serious constitutional issue that has ramifications for all Americans; all Coloradans,” Suther said.
Suthers was among the first to file a legal challenge to the law.
“If the government can force you to buy a particular product or service they think is good for you, they can control your individual economic decision-making,” Suthers said.
Supporters — many of whom rallied outside of the Supreme Court — say the law makes health care affordable for everyone.
“I think it’s just really important to come out and support this law that’s already helped so many Americans,” Lucy Mitts of Washington, D.C. said.
Hanson says there are legal precedents on both sides making it difficult to predict the outcome. The only certainty is the outcome will be the topic of much debate during this contentious election year.
The justices are expected to make a decision in the summer.