The US Supreme Court has begun deciding whether President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform law is legal.
Twenty-six US states have challenged the act which expands health coverage to 32 million Americans. Critics claim it is an intrusion on civil liberties as it forces people to buy insurance.
Monday focused on whether the judges had the power to hear the case. A fine for not buying insurance appears to have been viewed as a penalty and not a tax thus negating an obscure piece of legislation which could have delayed proceedings.
The landmark session is politically charged with the nine Supreme Court judges split between five having been appointment by Republican presidents and four by Democrats.
And American voters are likewise divided over Obamacare.
Protester Keli Carander was adamant the reforms should be thrown out: “If we do not get them overturned in the courts and if we do not get them repealed and the mandate stands, I will drop my health insurance and I will not purchase insurance if I am forced to do so by the government, I am not going to pay the fine and they can put me in jail if they want and there are millions of people like me.”
But cancer survivor Ellena Young was clear how the reforms would change the future for her and her family. “I know that I’ll be able to afford my prescription medications and that my son will have healthcare as well. He won’t be fighting for what prescription drug I can afford today or taking out a loan to get basic healthcare.”