Chief Justice John Roberts compared the individual mandate to a cellphone. Justice Samuel Alito said citizens could be compelled to buy burial insurance since, after all, everyone will die at some point. Broccoli came up eight times (“You can make people buy broccoli,” Justice Antonin Scalia said at one point). Here are some of the most pointed exchanges, with some background from legal scholars.
A key legal question is whether the federal government can require citizens to obtain a product — in this case, health insurance.
CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS
So can the government require you to buy a cellphone because that would facilitate responding when you need emergency services? You can just dial 911 no matter where you are?
SOLICITOR GENERAL DONALD VERRILLI
No, Mr. Chief Justice. That’s different. It’s — We — I don’t think we think of that as a market. This is a market. This is market regulation.