Anti-Injunction Act Arguments Today at SCOTUS


By Hadley Heath

In just moments, the Supreme Court will begin hearing oral arguments on the Tax Anti-Injunction Act, an issue introduced in the Liberty University case in the Fourth Circuit.  The question facing Justices today is whether or not this statue precludes any challenges to the individual mandate until its penalty is assessed on someone.  This would mean categorizing the individual mandate as a tax.

While both the federal government and the law's challengers agree that the Tax Anti-Injunction Act shouldn't apply here, Justices must still have the final say.  The Court appointed an amicus lawyer (Bob Long) to argue that the statue does apply.

At IWF, my colleague Anna Rittgers has already previewed today's arguments.  Here's a breakdown of how the 90 total minnutes of arguments will go today:

Long will argue for 40 minutes that the Anti-Injunction Act is a jurisdictional law, and that the penalty provisions of the individual mandate portion of Obamacare means the Court does not have jursidiction over any cases regarding the individual mandate until someone has been injured by the law—specifically, until (1)  that provision of the law takes effect in 2014 (2) a person fails to obtain health insurance as mandated by the law and is assessed a penalty by the IRS, (3) that same person has tried but failed to obtain a refund for the penalty AND (4) the person files a lawsuit that works its way through the court system.  In other words, if the Supreme Court rules that the Anti-Injunction Act applies, the Court will not consider the constitutionality of the individual mandate for at the very least three years, but likely much longer.

Both the government as well as the challengers to individual mandate provision agree that the TAIA does not apply in this case.   The government will have 30 minutes to argue that the TAIA doesn’t apply to these specific provisions regarding the individual mandate and penalty.  The challengers will have 20 minutes to argue that the purpose of the lawsuit is to challenge the constitutionality of the mandate, not the collection of the penalty;  that the penalty is a penalty, not a tax; and alternatively, that the TAIA is not a jurisdictional law, but a “claims issue on appeal processing” law. 

Check back with later today for the transcript and audio file from today's arguments.


Back to Previous Page