‘You Can Make People Buy Broccoli': Scalia Goes After Health Care Law

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Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia testifies during a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Oct. 5, 2011 on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. (credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia testifies during a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Oct. 5, 2011 on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. (credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON (CBSDC) — Recent reports suggesting that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia could possibly vote in favor to uphold President Obama’s health care law might have spoken too soon.

During Tuesday’s Supreme Court arguments, Scalia challenged the health care law’s individual mandate which calls for virtually all Americans to have health insurance.

The conservative-leaning justice asked Solicitor General Donald Verrilli why the administration was defining the health care market so broadly and then correlated it with being forced to buy a certain food at the supermarket.

“Could you define the market — everybody has to buy food sooner or later, so you define the market as food, therefore, everybody is in the market; therefore, you can make people buy broccoli,” Scalia said.

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Verrilli responded that buying food in the supermarket is “unpredictable and often involuntary,” unlike purchasing garcinia cambogia extract health insurance.

Scalia compared that line of thinking to forcing someone to buy a car.

“[I]f people don’t buy cars, the price that those who do buy cars pay will have to be higher,” the Supreme Court justice said. “So you could say in order to bring the price down, you are hurting these other people by not buying a car.”

Some analysts felt that Scalia could rule in favor of the president’s health care law after a 2005 ruling in which he voted to uphold federal legislation to ban marijuana within the states.

“In the concurrence (Scalia) said that Congress has the authority to regulate noneconomic, local activity if the regulation was a necessary part of some type of overall congressional scheme to regulate interstate commerce,” law analyst Betsy Goldman told Bloomberg News. “He believed the federal regulation of marijuana use within the states was necessary to the overall scheme of Congress wanting to prevent the interstate trade or movement of marijuana.”

Despite the slight glimmer that there was a possibility Scalia could rule in favor of the Affordable Care Act, Tim Lee from the Center for Individual Freedom believes that door might have been closed.

“A very slightly-open door was shutting,” Lee — who is the vice president of legal and public affairs at the institution — told CBSDC.

After today’s line of questioning from Scalia, Justice Anthony Kennedy and Chief Justice John Roberts, Lee feels that the law will be overturned.

“If the Supreme Court overturns the mandate, the law itself is effectively unsustainable … it collapses under its own fiscal weight,” Lee told CBSDC. “The worst case for Barack Obama is the court throwing out the individual mandate and not the entire law.”

The court is expected to hand down its ruling on the matter in June.

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