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Is the Obama Health Care Law Constitutional?

March 4, 2011

The Loyola University New Orleans College of Law presents “Is the Obama Health Care Law Constitutional?” on Friday, March 11 at noon, in Room 112. Opposing views on the subject will be presented by professors Calvin H. Johnson of the University of Texas Law School, and Steven J. Willis, of the University of Florida Law School. This discussion continues a lively debate, which began in print regarding the constitutionality of the tax provisions of this law. Loyola’s professors James E. Viator and Cynthia Lepow will serve as commentator and moderator, respectively. It is free and open to the public.

Willis argues that the penalty portion of the recent act is an un-apportioned direct tax, and hence unconstitutional. On the other hand, Johnson counters that the Constitution "gives Congress the power to tax and spend for the general welfare and common defense, and the necessary and proper clause gives power to provide for the general welfare by other means." According to Johnson, direct taxes are only those taxes that can be reasonably apportioned among the states.

Johnson is the author of “Righteous Anger at the Wicked States: The Meaning of the Founders Constitution” and several articles on constitutional law including Really Cool Stuff: Digital Searches into the Constitutional Period. A former chairman of the American Bar Association Tax Section Committee on Tax Structure and Simplification and chairman of the American Association of Law Schools, Tax Section, he manages the Shelf Project, which is a collaboration of tax professionals who work to create and develop proposals to raise revenue to close the $1.4 trillion deficit without raising tax rates.

Willis, a native of Lafayette, La., is the associate director of the Center on Children and Families and the co-author of “The Tax Law of Charities and Other Exempt Organizations, Cases, Materials, Questions and Activities” and “Tax Accounting” and numerous articles, including co-authoring Constitutional Decapitation and Healthcare.

For more information or to reserve a seat, contact Jessica Howard at 504-861-5760 or jkhoward@loyno.edu.

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