If the Supreme Court Throws Out Health Care Law, Might Environmental Protections be Next?

Max Fischer via Flickr/CC BY 2.0

If the Supreme Court were to strike down the recently-passed healthcare law as unconstitutional—which would be a bold and largely unprecedented act—some scholars and experts worry that longstanding environmental protections and labor laws might be next.

So reporteth Politico:

Simon Lazarus of the National Senior Citizens Law Center, has made some of the most attention-grabbing predictions, arguing that throwing out the legislation would usher in a return of the Lochner era ... “Is the court going to become a dedicated foe of all manner of social legislation?” Lazarus asked. “If anything amounts to micromanaging rational choices by Congress, it’s this. Everyone acknowledges that it’s well within Congress’s power to regulate the health care market. … For a court to find a way to overturn that, second-guess that choice, I can’t think of a more radical transformation.”
Essentially, if the court decides that Congress has overstepped its boundaries, the line where it did so is prone to become much more arbitrary—labor laws and environmental protections could be deemed unconstitutional on similar theoretical grounds, according to the experts cited by Politico.

"If the health care law goes down, Lazarus said Superfund legislation imposing cleanup of environmental contamination and statutes aimed at preventing employment discrimination could be next in the cross hairs." The Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act could also feasibly be targeted for elimination.

Clearly, this is highly speculative, and it's still uncertain how the Supreme Court (rather, Anthony Kennedy) will ultimately rule. But it's worth watching this closely, as the outcome will reflect the sanctity of those democratically passed laws considered controversial in the eyes of the conservative movement.

Tags: Health Care | United States

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