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Experts Debate Health Insurance Mandate In Moot Court

Publication Date: 
March 15, 2012
Daily Journal
Gabe Friedman

Professor Kathleen M. Sullivan participated in a moot court over the Obama administration's health care reform. The Daily Journal's Gabe Friedman covered the event:

"Liberty is not dead," Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP's Theodore J. Boutrous Jr. declared Tuesday night in arguing that the federal health care reform law is unconstitutional.

The passionate declaration came not in a courtroom but as part of a moot court over the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act hosted by the California Endowment for a packed audience in preview of the U.S. Supreme Court's hearing later this month.


"What's the court's role in our democracy?" asked Kathleen Sullivan of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP, who argued for upholding the law, opposite Boutrous at the moot court event.


Sullivan, arguing first, framed the individual mandate as solving "a problem in our nation's economy." Federal law requires hospitals to treat uninsured individuals but the federal government does not pay for that treatment. Instead, the costs are passed on as higher insurance premiums.


Sullivan said afterwards that both sides have "powerful arguments" and suggested the U.S. Supreme Court may defer to Congress to avoid upsetting the delicate system of checks and balances. "In the end," she said, "the tiebreaker may be deference to the political branches."