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Mar 2

Past Event

The Constitutionality of the Health Care Law's Individual Mandate: An Oxford-Style Debate

Event Materials




At the crux of the health care law enacted last year is the provision requiring individuals to purchase insurance, but opponents of the law wasted no time in filing law suits against it. Five district courts have ruled on the constitutionality of the individual mandate: three in favor and two against. With appellate court hearings already scheduled, these conflicting opinions appear to be on their way to the Supreme Court.

On March 2, Brookings Senior Fellow William Galston moderated an Oxford-style debate on the resolution, "the individual mandate is unconstitutional." Arguing in favor of the resolution were David B. Rivkin, Jr. and Ilya Somin. Arguing against it were Walter Dellinger and Simon Lazarus. With the matter as yet unsettled in the courts, this debate puts forth the strongest arguments on both sides of the question.

This event is part of the Governing Ideas series intended to broaden the discussion of governance issues through forums on history, culture, legal norms and practices, values and religion.

After the program, panelists took audience questions.

Event Agenda

  • Moderator

  • Arguing in Favor

    • David B. Rivkin, Jr.

      Partner, Baker Hostetler

    • Ilya Somin

      Assistant Professor of Law, George Mason University School of Law

  • Arguing Against

    • Walter Dellinger

      Partner, O'Melveny & Myers

    • Simon Lazarus

      Public Policy Counsel, National Senior Citizens Law Center


March 2, 2011

10:00 AM - 12:00 PM EST

The Brookings Institution

Falk Auditorium

1775 Massachusetts Ave., NW


For More Information

Brookings Office of Communications

(202) 797-6105

SERIES: Governing Ideas | Number 21