Commentary

Kagan: ‘It’s Just A Boatload Of Federal Money,’ ‘It Doesn’t Sound Coercive To Me’

By Gregory Gwyn-Williams, Jr. | March 28, 2012 | 5:58pm EDT

Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan defended the expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare today by arguing that "It's just a boatload of federal money for you to take and spend" and concluding "It doesn't sound coercive to me."

Kagan made her comments at today's Supreme Court hearing while questioning attorney Paul D. Clement who was presenting an oral argument on behalf of 26 states seeking to have the federal health care law declared unconstitutional:

Mr. Clement: "Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the court.  The constitutionality of the act’s massive expansion of Medicaid depends on the answer to two related questions.  First, is the expansion coercive?  And second, does that coercion matter?"

Justice Kagan: "Mr. Clement, can I ask you as just a matter of clarification; would you be making the same argument if, instead of the federal government picking up ninety percent of the cost, the federal government picked a hundred percent of the cost?"

Clement: "Justice Kagan if everything else in the statute remained the same I would be making the exact same argument."

Kagan: "The exact same argument so, so that really reduces to the question of: why is a big gift from the federal government a matter of coercion?

"In other words, the federal government is here saying: we’re giving you a boatload of money.  There are no, is no matching funds requirement.  There are no extraneous conditions attached to it.

"It’s just a boatload of federal money for you to take and spend on poor people’s healthcare.  It doesn’t sound coercive to me, I have to tell you."

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