Alito also noted concerns that forcing people to wait until after they’ve paid a penalty on the individual mandate puts people in a position of having to disobey the law to make a claim. Long disagreed with that contention, but he later allowed, “I would not argue that this statute is a perfect model of clarity” to chuckles.
DeGette, a lawyer and a prominent backer of the law, acknowledged that the justices face a tricky task in sorting through the tax question. “If they are going to uphold the mandate, they might have to call it a tax,” she acknowledged, and yet, if it is a tax, taking the case now appears to contradict the statute.
“It’s a fine line,” she said.
She said the tax concerns could be the “sleeper issue” but that she expects the court to rule on the broader case and find a way around it.
Otherwise, she surmised, it wouldn’t have taken the case in the first place.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.