The U.S. Supreme Court held the first day of a three-day hearing on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, starting with a consideration of whether an 1867 law blocks consideration of taxes that have not yet been imposed.

The justices questioned three attorneys on whether the Anti-Injunction Act of 1867 bars lawsuits over penalties against people who fail to purchase health insurance under the individual mandate, and whether those penalties are in reality taxes. Both the Solicitor General for the federal government and the attorney arguing against the constitutionality of the health care reform law said the case should be allowed to proceed before the court even though the penalties do not take effect until 2015, although the Obama administration had switched its position on this question. Because both sides agreed on that issue, the court brought in another attorney to argue for a delay of three years, until the individual mandate and the penalties associated with refusing to buy health insurance take effect.

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