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.
Terri Henderson, 6, center, whose mother is El Salvador, attends a rally with members of Congress at Union Station's Columbus Circle to announce the Restore Opportunity, Strengthen, and Improve the Economy (ROSIE) Act on July 29, 2014. The legislation provides incentives for government contractors to pay a living wage and other benefits that would help low-income workers.