Originally published on Wed March 28, 2012 3:43 pm
On the final morning of its three-day health care law extravaganza, the U.S. Supreme Court wrestled with the question of whether parts of the 2010 federal statute can survive if the justices strike down its central tenet: the individual insurance requirement.
In other words, if the nine justices find the insurance mandate unconstitutional when they rule by June, would that mean that the entire law also fails the constitutionality test?
There's a Republican presidential primary next Tuesday in Wisconsin. But as the accompanying photo taken by NPR political correspondent Don Gonyea in Delafield, Wisc. suggests, a lot of Wisconsinites have other political matters on their minds.
As Don writes in an e-mail:
"Note that the recall coming up on June is the big political story here. Not Tuesdays presidential primary."
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.
In the Senate today, a familiar debate: Whether to end billions of dollars in tax breaks for the country's five biggest oil companies. Last year, Democrats failed to repeal those tax breaks and they fully expect to fail again. Still, senators from both parties have been eager to engage in the issue.
As NPR's David Welna reports, each side expects a payoff in November.
The last argument on the Affordable Care Act before the Supreme Court could have consequences far beyond health care.
The key issue is whether the health law's expansion of the Medicaid program for the poor unfairly compels the participation of states. Many considered this to be the weakest part of the states' challenge to the health law, and during Wednesday afternoon's arguments, that seemed to be the case.
The case of Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, the U.S. soldier charged with killing 17 Afghan villagers, has led the Army to review how troops are screened for post-traumatic stress disorder. The Pentagon and the Department of Veterans Affairs say they have invested heavily in the treatment of PTSD to deal with a growing caseload.
But the stigma associated with the disorder continues to complicate efforts to treat it. It has also fueled serious misconceptions about its effects — such as the notion that PTSD causes acts of extreme violence.
The AP says there was strong disagreement between liberal and conservative Supreme Court justices on the question of whether the expansion of Medicaid in the health care law passed in 2010 is constitutional. At issue is whether the federal government can demand that states expand their Medicaid program.
The court's liberal wing, reports the AP, made it clear they were OK with expansion of the program for low-income Americans.
Amnesty International says the Cuban government has increased its harassment of opposition activists.
According to the human rights organization, the government has detained more 150 opponents and in other situations has surrounded some of the activists' homes to prevent them from "denouncing abuses during Pope Benedict's tour."
Amnesty adds that some human rights organizations and prominent activists have had their phones cut off.