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Health Care Cases: Supreme Court Ruling; Lesson Plans

Street Law, Inc.

Over 40 years of educating about law, democracy, and human rights

Health Care Cases: Supreme Court Ruling; Lesson Plans

On June 28, 2012, the Supreme Court decided the biggest case of the 2011-12 term -- ruling that key provisions of the Affordable Care Act are constitutional.

  • Visit SCOTUSblog to learn more about the decision.

Here, Street Law, Inc. provides materials to help educators teach about one of the four issues in the caseswhether or not the law’s mandate that individuals purchase health insurance exceeded Congress’s power under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution. Studying the individual mandate provides a way to learn about federalism and the Commerce Clause through an exciting current issue.  

We have created two lessons and a case summary. We aim to inform students of the history of the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Commerce Clause, discuss the ways in which the Commerce Clause limits Congressional power, and explore the arguments for and against the ACA’s individual mandate. We do so in a way that addresses these controversial issues in a balanced way, through a lens of constitutional analysis rather than partisan policy. These lessons were reviewed by experts in constitutional law, the commerce clause, and health care, who hold positions at various points along the political spectrum.

Case Summary

Dept. of Health and Human Services v. Florida - the Health Care case (2012)

Written in Street Law's case summary format, we explain the facts, issue, precedents, and arguments for both sides, as well as a summary of the decision. This case summary focuses on the individual mandate issue. 


Congressional Powers: The Commerce Clause

Essential Question: What powers are given to Congress by the Commerce Clause? How have the decisions of the Supreme Court interpreting that Clause operated to both expand and restrict Congressional authority over time?

Constitutionality of Health Care Reform: The Affordable Care Act

Essential Question: Does the Commerce Clause of the Constitution authorize Congress to require that almost all persons in the United States purchase health insurance?

Additional Resources  

Learn more

Supreme Court Summer Institute for Teachers