Updated 12:59 pm ET
Reports are varying out of the Supreme Court on whether Justices seem inclined to let the rest of the health bill stand if the individual purchasing mandate is deemed unconstitutional.
Conservatives seem to by lining up against leaving the remainder in place, pointing to Anthony Kennedy as the swing vote on the “severability” issue as he will be on the mandate itself.
From the New York Times:
Justice Antonin Scalia said the whole law would have to go.
“My approach would be to say that if you take the heart out of this statute,” he said, “the statute’s gone.”
Chief Justice John Roberts asked questions that suggested the whole law could be in danger. He said the mandate is linked to the rest of the law, and that other provisions were added as a way to muscle the bill through Congress, he said, according to the Journal.
Without them, Congress “would not have been able to cobble together the votes to get it approved,” he said.
But Roberts and Scalia also made comments suggesting they were still thinking the matter over.
Kennedy reportedly expressed concerns about the costs to insurers if the mandate alone is struck.
But remember, even the federal government is arguing that if the mandate goes down, it should take with it the law’s requirements that insurers not take into account pre-existing conditions or age in setting rates. The argument is these measures become too expensive for insurers without the guaranteed business that the mandate would provide.
What backers of the law are hoping will stand at least are other new benefits provided by the law, such as the expansion of the Medicare drug benefit, the vast increase in the number of people eligible for Medicaid, and requirements for free preventive care.
Justice Elena Kagan suggested that “half a loaf is better than no loaf.”
UPDATE: Los Angeles Times is reporting likelihood that conservatives would strike down the whole law along with the mandate.