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PPACA Hearings: Quotable Moments

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The debate was fierce during the Supreme Court’s final day of hearings of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as justices considered whether the law could stand without the controversial individual mandate. It was also long: the final arguments went nearly half an hour longer than planned, a rarity for the high court. Here, five of the most memorable moments.

Chief Justice John Roberts

Chief Justice John Roberts on the severability of the individual mandate:

“[Much of the content of PPACA] is reauthorization of appropriations that have been reauthorized for the previous five or 10 years, and it was just more convenient for Congress to throw it in in the middle of the 2,700 pages than to do it separately. I mean, can you really suggest — I mean, they’ve cited the Black Lung Benefits Act and those have nothing to do with any of the things we are talking about.” (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) 

Justice Anthony Kennedy

Justice Anthony Kennedy on the proper exercise of judicial power:

“We would be exercising the judicial power if one act was — one provision was stricken and the others remained to impose a risk on insurance companies that Congress had never intended. By reason of this court, we would have a new regime that Congress did not provide for, did not consider.” (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) 

Justice Ruth Baden Ginsburg

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the idea that the expansion of Medicare is unconstitutionally coercive:

“We have never had, in the history of the country or the court, any federal program struck down because it is so good that it’s coercive.” (AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File) 

Josh Earnest

White House Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest, after the hearings, on PPACA contingency plans:

“There are a lot of different things that they could find, one way or the other. We remain confident that they’re going to find the entire thing constitutional. … Anybody who believes you can try to predict the outcome of the Supreme Court based solely on the questions of the justices is not a very good student of the Supreme Court.” (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Paul Clement

Washington attorney Paul Clement, in closing, on the definition of liberty:

“It’s a very foreign conception of liberty that forces people to purchase an insurance policy when they don’t want to.” (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)


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