Somin: No Return to Lochner Era

Professor Ilya Somin dismissed arguments that a Supreme Court ruling against the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate would portend a return to the Lochner era, telling Politico, “Those are quite weak arguments.”

“This will have a significant effect in terms of preventing Congress from enacting all sorts of future mandates that could benefit politically influential industries and interest groups, but in terms of its effect on previously enacted programs, the effect is going to range from nothing at all to minor,” Somin said.

Somin believes that upholding the law could lead to future mandates, such as requirements that American buy health food or gym memberships.

“There’s lots of evidence that diet and exercise have a lot more impact on health than whether we have insurance,” Somin said. “I can’t completely rule out the possibility that a Supreme Court decision on the mandate could have an impact on [environmental laws], but I think that’s relatively unlikely.”

Since last week’s oral arguments on U.S. Department of Health and Human Services v. Florida in the Supreme Court, court watchers have debated the effect on existing laws if the health care law is struck down in whole or in part when the Court renders its decision in June.

Supreme Court health care debate: If the law fails, what's next? Politico, April 1, 2012. By Josh Gerstein.

"While the likely impact of the court striking down the individual mandate is hotly disputed, there seems to be a broader consensus that a Supreme Court ruling tossing out the health law’s expansion of Medicaid would have more profound and direct consequences. Even some Republicans who opposed the overall bill say such a ruling would create major doubts about federal efforts to impose conditions on everything from highway funds to education programs.

“'If the Supreme Court accepts the states’ argument, a host of constitutional questions will surround the operation of many federal funding streams to the states,' Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said on the Senate floor late last year of the Medicaid provision. 'It would be difficult to overstate the significance of such a ruling.'”

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