Senate Republicans said they would make the just-passed health reform law a factor in their questioning of the Obama administration's choice for the Supreme Court, Solicitor General Elena Kagan.
Healthcare questions await Supreme Court nominee Kagan
Sen. John Barrasso, M.D., (R-Wyo.), a physician, told Fox News that he would press Kagan on the constitutionality of the reform law, primarily when it comes to the individual mandate requiring every U.S. citizen to purchase some level of health insurance. “That's a 10th Amendment issue,” Barrasso said. Already 20 states have filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government in an effort to overturn the law. “She is going to have to make a decision, if she's on the court, about how that goes forward with these 20 states suing.”
Aides to Senate Republicans on the Judiciary Committee, which ultimately will vote on whether to move forward on the Kagan nomination, said those lawmakers, too, would gauge where Kagan stands on the issue.
Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the senior Republican on the Judiciary Committee, said that the new reform law could trigger constitutional questions likely to come up during Kagan's hearing. “You'll have that anytime you have a 2,000-page bill,” he said. “A judge has got to be able to say no even to a signature issue of the person who appoints them.”
The Senate confirmed Kagan to her post as solicitor general in March 2009, on a 61-31 vote. Three Republicans who currently serve on the Judiciary Committee voted for her then, though their support this time around is anything but certain.
But that vote was taken a year before Congress split largely along party lines on the massive health reform package.
“I will be glad to counter the Republicans when they actually step forward into the light of day and make their arguments,” said Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Judiciary Committee. “That will be the time to counter them.”
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