In today’s installment of Why Do the Things That Affect Us the Most Always Have to Be the Most Boring Things to Understand?, the Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments this week on Obamacare.
On Tuesday, the Court will hear substantive arguments over the constitutionality of the law’s requirement that most Americans obtain insurance or pay a penalty. Before they can bite into that spicy tamale of a legal issue, however, they must sit through a 90-minute argument today on what Paul D. Clement, the lawyer who represents the 26 states challenging the law, has called “the most boring jurisdictional stuff one can imagine.”
Under an 1867 federal law called the Anti-Injunction Act, “no suit for the purpose of restraining the assessment or collection of any tax shall be maintained in any court by any person.” In other words, someone needs to actually pay a tax before they can start bitching about it. Therefore, since the Obamacare tax penalties for not having insurance would not take effect until 2014 and would not be paid on federal tax returns until April 2015, the Fourth Circuit ruled last year that we’re all going to have to wait on the edges of our seats until then before courts can decide whether Obamacare is constitutional or not.
In case you ever wondered why all of your attorney friends always talk about wanting to quit their $300,000/year jobs to become yoga instructors, consider the fact that this is essentially the Super Bowl of lawyering — the most exciting event of the year — and this Clement guy is basically Eli Manning. And even he doesn’t know how he is going to get through oral arguments without falling asleep.