It’s still very early and anything can happen, but reports indicate that five of the nine Supreme Court justices seemed skeptical of the individual mandate’s constitutionality and analysts across the political spectrum concluded that the Obama legal team lost this round.
Via Talking Points Memo, CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin pronounced today’s hearings a disaster for the Obama administration. “This was a train wreck for the Obama administration,” Toobin said. “This law looks like it’s going to be struck down. I’m telling you, all of the predictions including mine that the justices would not have a problem with this law were wrong… if I had to bet today I would bet that this court is going to strike down the individual mandate.”
There are also reports that at one point Justice Elena Kagan had to help her successor as Obama solicitor general frame his arguments more effectively. Again, it’s early and the liberal bloc commands four reliable votes. But those who thought defending Obamacare would be a cakewalk because courts have routinely ignored constitutional limits on federal power were wrong.
UPDATE: Here are the transcripts of today’s oral arguments.