How The Health Care Ruling Might Affect Civil Rights
July 6, 2012
There's been lots of talk about how the Supreme Court's landmark decision to uphold the health care law could affect the federal Medicaid program and President Obama's political standing. But days after the historic ruling, lawyers say they're still teasing out the consequences for other key areas of the law — including civil rights.
At first blush, it might seem odd that a case about the Affordable Care Act would send civil rights experts scrambling back to their law books.
But the Supreme Court's ruling in the health care case involves the Commerce Clause and Congress' spending power, which happen to be the backbone of most civil rights legislation.
"The Commerce Clause and the impact on interstate commerce of various types of discrimination has traditionally formed the basis for many civil rights statutes," says Washington lawyer Robert Driscoll, who worked on civil rights in the George W. Bush Justice Department. "And unlike the health care case, civil rights statutes generally would not have a taxing provision which could provide the kind of save of the statute that happened for the health care case."