Obama administration defends health law

Jan. 7, 2012 at 12:56 AM

WASHINGTON, Jan. 7 (UPI) -- The U.S. Congress has the power to legislate the individual mandate for health insurance, the Obama administration's top lawyer said Friday.

Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. filed his first brief defending the Affordable Care Act with the U.S. Supreme Court, The Washington Post reported. He said the healthcare reform legislation was passed after years of study and a long national debate.

"That was a policy choice the Constitution entrusts the democratically accountable branches to make, and the court should respect it," Verrilli wrote.

The court has scheduled 5 1/2 hours of argument between March 26 and March 28. Different sessions will cover different aspects of the case, although the constitutionality of the individual mandate is the central issue.

The 11th Circuit in Atlanta struck down the individual mandate, although other courts have upheld it. One appeals court ruled a challenge was premature since the mandate does not go into effect in 2014.

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