A lot, according to William Eskridge, who was my constitutional law professor at Yale Law School and is one the countrys leading scholars on the complex and nuanced interaction between Congress, the presidency and the courts. Justice Stephen Breyer wrote the opinion, but several of the conservatives the Obama administration needs to win over on the healthcare law joined it, including Chief Justice John Roberts and Samuel Alito. The decision hinges upon the Necessary and Proper Clause of the Constitution, which gives Congress the authority to enact laws that carry out its legislative mandate. Nowhere does the Constitution give Congress the power to imprison sex criminals; the words dont even appear in the document. But Breyer ruled with Roberts signing off on every comma and sentence, Eskridge notes that the Necessary and Proper Clause allows Congress to enact such laws as long as they are rationally related to a constitutionally enumerated power. Stripped to its essence, Comstock says as long as the goal is to further one of the powers given Congress, the law is probably OK. And since Roberts joined the majority, Eskridge said, he probably assigned the case to archliberal Breyer. Regulating interstate commerce is definitely one of the Article I powers given to Congress. And healthcare is one of the largest components of the interstate economy. And Congress already has passed laws providing for healthcare for poor people and the elderly (just as it had long been involved in the treatment of mentally ill prisoners before Comstock came along, a fact noted in the decision). Obamacare is simply an effort to rationalize the healthcare system for a broader swath of the population, Eskridge said, with the individual mandate a necessary condition without which the private insurance industry would collapse. If its neccesary and proper for healthcare reform to work that there be an individual mandate which is obvious to any businessperson then it should be upheld, Eskridge said. This is the largest sector of our economy, and its growing. Obamacare Defenders May Have Precedent They Need - Daniel Fisher - Full Disclosure - Forbes Is this precedent enough....?