Why The Supreme Court Said ‘Broccoli’ 8 Times In Healthcare Hearings

broccoli supreme court
The “broccoli goes to the Supreme Court” mashup—of justices and lawyers saying the word broccoli eight times—from today’s Brian Lehrer show is fairly entertaining, but it’s also a good starting point for understanding what’s happening in this week’s healthcare hearings. In what many believe was a lost battle for Solicitor General Donald Verrilli yesterday, broccoli was the unlikely symbol for arguments against mandatory healthcare.

First brought up by conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, broccoli became the prime example of purchases that could hypothetically become mandatory, should the court approve Obamacare. Other examples—like mandatory cell phones (for use in case of emergency), exercise, or advance funeral purchases—were also brought up, but broccoli became the real stumbling block for Verrilli, whose counter-argument was seen by many as a choke.

In response to Scalia’s question—if they can make us buy health insurance, why not broccoli?—Verrilli responded:

No, that’s quite different [...] The food market while it shares that trait that everybody’s in it, it is not a market in which your participation is often unpredictable and often involuntary, it is not a market in which you often don’t know before you go in what you need and it is not a market in which if you go in and seek to obtain a product or service you will get it even if you can’t pay for it.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg stepped in later to help Verrilli clarify his argument, but all in all, things weren’t looking great for Obamacare on day 2 of the healthcare hearings.

Photo: Green As A Thistle

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