Symposium Explores Supreme Court Ruling on Obamacare

October 12, 2012

Of paramount importance to voters in this year’s presidential election is health care policy, and central to this issue is the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare. On October 4, the Fordham Law Review invited some of the nation’s most preeminent scholars to discuss the far-reaching implications of the Act, in particular the Supreme Court’s landmark decision, National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius.

The daylong symposium, “Health Care and the Constitution,” consisted of a series of panels that examined many facets of the Court’s historic ruling: constitutional boundaries and definitions as related to the contentious individual mandate provision, the impact health care has made on political discourse and policymaking, and the Court’s treatment of Congress’s Medicaid expansion through the lens of federalism and judicial understanding of the legislative process. 

Opening remarks were given by Fordham Law Vice Dean Sheila Foster and Benjamin Zipursky, Fordham Law Professor and Associate Dean for Research. Zipursky also participated in the individual mandate panel, which explored the Commerce Clause and taxation elements of the Court’s decision, as well as the future implications of the opinion. The panel, including Professors Gillian Metzger and Trevor Morrison from Columbia Law, Gary Lawson from Boston University Law, and Linda Sugin from Fordham Law, was moderated by Fordham Law Review Editor-in-Chief Richard Gage ’13.

In the second panel, Ezekiel Emanuel from the University of Pennsylvania and Richard Kirsch from the Roosevelt Institute discussed the political landscape surrounding the development, enactment, constitutionality, and implementation of the Affordable Care Act. The Law Review’s Executive Symposia Editor, Julie Albert ’13, moderated the panel.

For the third panel, “The Justices on Medicaid,” James Blumstein of Vanderbilt evaluated the Court’s opinion that the Act was coercive and looked to the likely impact of the Medicaid decision on the states. Zipursky served as moderator.

The symposium concluded with a lecture delivered by Yale Law’s Akhil Reed Amar who posed a broad question: Do we have a Constitutional right to medical care? Fordham Law Professor Kimani Paul-Emile served as moderator for the final portion of the program.

The Fordham Law Review publishes six books each academic year, at least five of which include annual symposia: the Robert L. Levine Lecture, the Philip D. Reed Lecture, an annual ethics symposium, and two additional symposia on varying topics. The Law Review is the sixth most cited law review in other legal journals, and the ninth most cited law review in judicial opinions, according to a recent study by Washington & Lee University. Articles from the symposium will be published in the March 2013 issue of the Fordham Law Review.