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Is insurance requirement constitutional?

Health care reform appears headed for passage, but that won't be the end of the fight for opponents. Many GOP lawmakers and some legal scholars believe that the proposed requirement that all Americans have health insurance, or have to pay a penalty, is unconstitutional, and they hope the U.S. Supreme Court will say so, the Washington Post reported. "In the history of this country, the federal government has never required every American to enter into a contract with a private company," said Randy Barnett, a professor of constitutional law at Georgetown University Law Center. But Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., argued: "We have looked at this question seriously and concluded that the penalty is constitutional. And those who study constitutional law as a line of work have drawn that same conclusion." Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the law school at the University of California at Irvine, also contends that "Congress clearly has the legal authority to require individuals to have health insurance."

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