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Unprecedented: The Constitutional Challenge to Obamacare

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May 8, 2014 12:45pm - 2:10pm

Room 285

Please join the Stanford Federalist Society as Professor Josh Blackman tells the inside story of the challenge to the Affordable Care Act. 

In 2012, the United States Supreme Court became the center of the political world. In a dramatic and unexpected 5–4 decision, Chief Justice John Roberts voted to narrowly save the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare. Unprecedented tells the inside story of how the challenge to Obamacare raced across all three branches of government, and narrowly avoided a constitutional collision between the Supreme Court and President Obama.

On November 13, 2009, a group of Federalist Society lawyers met in the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C., to devise a legal challenge to the constitutionality of President Obama’s “legacy”—his healthcare reform. It seemed a very long shot, and was dismissed peremptorily by the White House, much of Congress, most legal scholars, and all of the media. Two years later the fight to overturn the Affordable Care Act became a political and legal firestorm. When, finally, the Supreme Court announced its ruling, the judgment was so surprising that two cable news channels misreported it and announced that the Act had been declared unconstitutional.

Josh Blackman is an assistant professor of law at the South Texas College of Law in Houston, Texas, and president of the Harlan Institute, a nonprofit dedicated to raising awareness about the Supreme Court and the Constitution. He has published over a dozen law review articles about constitutional law, written numerous op-eds, and has been interviewed about the Supreme Court by the New York Times, CNN, ABC News Radio, Reuters, The National Law Journal, the American Bar Association Journal, and Yahoo! News. The American Bar Association Journal selected his personal blog, JoshBlackman.com, as one of its top 100 Legal Blogs. He also runs FantasySCOTUS.net, the internet’s premier Supreme Court Fantasy League. He clerked for the Honorable Danny J. Boggs on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit and for the Honorable Kim R. Gibson on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania. Josh is a graduate of the George Mason University School of Law.